Should I Remove That Product Feature?

by Sean Boyce
remove product feature

Product management doesn’t focus exclusively on adding features.  Product management should focus on whether or not your product has the right features.  If your product doesn’t have the right features, then you need to make some changes.  Occasionally a product feature will experience minimal activity.  This can happen for many reasons.  What’s important is to find out why the feature is so inactive and either fix it or remove it from your product altogether.  Let’s walk through some options if you’ve ever considered removing a product feature.

Why is your feature so unpopular?

To make an educated decision here you need to first find out why that feature is not being used.  You’ll want to check your analytics and usage statistics.  Was this feature ever popular?  Is the data showing you patterns of initial usage and then it drops off?  If either of these are true, you’ll find your answers by communicating with your users.  Communicate with users that have used the feature and users that have not.  Ask for them to share their thoughts on that particular product functionality.  Look for patterns in their responses.  The more consistent their feedback is the easier it will be to find your answer.  Without knowing why users aren’t using your product feature it is going to be much more difficult to fix.

Fix the product feature.

With the feedback from your users into usage for this product feature you may be able to make some changes and get things back on track.  If users give you feedback related to how this feature works you may very well be able to adjust the functionality to dramatically improve usage.  Remember to focus on user feedback regarding what the product feature should do not how it should do it.  If user feedback isn’t not focused on what the feature should do then it may indicate that users never truly understood the feature to begin with.

Remove the feature.

If neither of these exercises prove effective then it may not be a bad idea to consider removing the feature or going back to the drawing board.  Like the NxtStep Discovery process that we use to perform feature selection, go back to your process and start over.  Every product feature isn’t going to be a home run.  At some point in the development process something went wrong.  Instead of reverse engineering every step it may be more productive to start over again with your newfound experience.  You know what product feature didn’t work for your users, now get to building something that does work for them.  

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