You won’t use that great feature

In April, tech writer Clive Thompson made a provocative suggestion to combat the temptation to add more functionality to existing technology: just say no.

Thompson, who is a contributing writer for New York Times Magazine, said companies should decide in advance which feature set they want to work on and stop when they get there.

“Feature creep is a real thing and it destroys software every year,” he told me, citing Instagram as a product he thinks worse the more options it adds.

Products cannot remain frozen in the past, of course. And some features, like the automatic ones Notify the emergency services after traffic accidents, may be useful even if used infrequently. It is also unpredictable which add-ons might come in handy for the masses.

Kuang said that the best technology products change little by little to push users towards a future that the creators have envisioned. He said Airbnb did it by evolving its website and app towards a significant recent change that pushes people to do so. Explore different types of houses without having a destination or travel dates in mind.

To get out of the bloatware trap, Kuang said, “You work backwards from the future you are trying to create.”

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