users could want. Most often, teams include all of these features when they're not really sure what users are trying to accomplish with the product. When a product serves a large and diverse audience, software often leaves it to the users to figure out how to solve their problems. The problem is that this feature pollution is typically detrimental to the software's usability.
For example, in my hotel room, I have a television remote for the TV, a funky cable box, and a DVD player. There are dozens of buttons in a variety of sizes ranging from small to really, really small and all the same color. I can't turn the volume down on the TV without studying it for a bit. Picture me trying to turn the volume down as fast as I can because there's no chance of me finding the "mute" button. The utility is there, but not much else.
To satisfy everyone, it's common to want to throw in many features (see figure 2). However, adding features without focusing on the users' goals will often lead to usability and learnability challenges. Teams might do better to create specialized versions of the product targeted at different audiences.
Wow, that's a lot of features!
In contrast, the Flip video camcorder focuses primarily on the product's usability. The Flip contains only a small subset of features for the users. It has only one button for recording and stopping a video recording. A flip-out USB port connects it with your computer where the software does the rest of the work to copy, edit, combine, and share videos.
With a small feature set, Flip does an excellent job of focusing on what is most important to their audience. For people who just want to shoot movies quickly, keep them, or share them, it's exactly what they need in a usable and aesthetically pleasing package. If you want to do more, it's not for you. Unlike with the Segway, there are enough people out there who want simplicity, so much that the Flip captured a double-digit share of the camcorder market in its first year.
The Lipsticked Pig: The Problem of Focusing on Aesthetics First
Many products don't offer the set of features users need to really help them. Sometimes they do, but figuring out how to use the features can be a real pain. Some products with missing utility and questionable usability try to ease the pain by investing in cool visual design. I won't name names here, but we know they're just lipsticking the pig.
I use a Windows-based product to scan expense receipts and prepare expense reports. While not perfect, the product does its job.
Recently I switched to a Mac computer and purchased the Mac version of the same product. Since the "aesthetic bar" seems to have been raised by Apple, I find the Mac versions of Windows products seem to be trying a bit too hard to reach aesthetic parity. The publishers of my receipt-scanning product warned that the Mac version didn't yet have all the features of the Windows version, but it did have a sexy and intuitive user interface. After a couple hours of frustration, I grabbed my old Windows notebook to use the old version of the product. I simply couldn't figure out how to use this new, sexy Mac version to finish my regular routine of scanning a couple weeks of receipts and preparing expense reports. But it certainly looked good not doing what I needed, and it does sync with