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How to Build a Feature List for a Mobile App
Transforming your app from an idea into a product is no easy feat. The key from traveling from an initial concept to ensuring your app will gain traction and be used is always, the end user. Companies must provide value in some meaningful way to the people who will be downloading your app. We can refer to these elements as a “feature list” or a “feature set”—the things your app must have, or do, to solve an issue or address a need. So, when considering the features that you will incorporate, ask yourself these essential questions:
- Will this feature solve a problem for the user?
- How does this feature offer value to the user?
- Is this feature necessary for phase one or can it be saved for future development?
- What is required to develop this feature?
Better yet—don’t just ask yourself, seek input from people who represent your target audience. What features would they value most? What features would they be most likely to use? What features would they consider to be necessary and unnecessary?
Then prioritize your list to identify the top features that are most likely to provide value to your audience. These are the features to build into your app—the MVP (or minimal viable product) that you need to produce to delight end users. And, remember—keeping it simple is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing!
5 Ways to Avoid Feature Overload
Building too many features into your app too often results in feature overload. Research shows, app users value simplicity. An app with a singular focus and clear functionality will beat out apps that are too feature-heavy every day. As you consider prioritizing the list of features you’ll include in your app, keep these important tips in mind to avoid feature fatigue.
- Focus on usability (not utility). What’s the difference between usability and utility? Utility is what your app does. Usability is how it does it. And, most significantly, how it does it from the user perspective. Your users have absolutely no interest in how your app works “behind the curtains.” They have a significant amount of interest, though, in what it does for them.
- Display certain features at key moments. Understanding how and when users will engage with your app can give you important insights into the features that they will need to access at key moments. For instance, when Facebook users see a cute puppy video they want to be able to easily share that video—to their stream, or directly with a friend. When consumers are walking through a shopping area on a hot summer day, they’re likely to be delighted to be delivered a coupon for an ice cream cone at a store a few feet from where they’re at.
- Follow your original product vision. The problem you’re trying to solve will lead to your initial product vision (and hopefully, clear business requirements). That vision will set the stage for the identification and development of features designed to solve that problem, and therefore, add value, to end users. As you go down this path, though, it’s not uncommon to keep thinking of more features you could add, or more things that your app could do.
Some of these things may be relevant, others are likely not. Be careful not to stray too far from your original vision. As new features come to mind, think back to your MVP and business requirements to determine whether they rise to the top of your list or need to move to the back burner for a future version or feature upgrade.
- Enable features for specific customers who need them. All customers are not created equal. They will have different needs depending on their unique and personal situations. To the extent you can, consider these differing needs so that your app provides value to specific subsets of users.
- Gather user feedback quickly. The beauty of online apps and the digital environment is the ability to capture and, potentially, act on information and insights quickly. Aggregate and analyze user data as quickly as possible to help you learn how users are actually using your app—and how often. You may even want to consider using an app review plugin, as Neil Patel recommends. It’s a great way to get real feedback in real time.
Also see: 13 Mobile App Development Trends React Native App Development vs. iPhone & Android App Development