What was the last feature you removed from your product?

  • 17 August 2021
  • 3 replies
  • 43 views

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Jeff Lash once wrote that bad product managers don’t ever remove features.

You certainly have to be smart about what you remove and when and evaluate why and make sure the impact minimized, but sometimes pulling something out of your product can healthy.

You’ll need to consider:

  • whether the value of removing exceeds the value of keeping - that often means you need to take a wholistic view of your metrics and data and engage in some early conversations with customers using the feature. There may also be cost and risk considerations and existing contractual obligations that hinder you making a change 
  • how best to approach the change - some may progressively hide a feature to evaluate if people use it or notice or even expose it to see if people do
  • how you’ll communicate the change - if you do go forward, you’ll have to help customers understand why, the tradeoffs or alternate options available, and the value it will release.

So, we’re curious what the last feature was that you removed from your product. How did it go? What were the pros/cons of the change?


3 replies

Badge

It was a while ago, but buggy features that didn’t work as intended.

It was correctly used by about 20% of our customers, and the other 80% were getting badly hurt by using it incorrectly - to the point where it could cause data corruption…

Against my opinion, we removed it without providing an alternative to the 20% that used it, which… Meant we lost those customers in the long term.

It was communicated many months ahead, and customers could choose if they upgraded to the newer versions or not - but it was still not handled as well as it could’ve been.

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

I’m curious, was there any effort to do discovery with customers and improve the UX before you decided to get rid of it? And after the fact was there anything else implemented as an alternative to try to retain that 20% before they churned?

Badge

Not really to both of those.

There were two prevalent voices: sales - saying it can’t be removed, and engineering - saying it has to be removed. Everything else was shut down.

Reply