Can you truly ever have too much of a good thing? For thousands of products that fail at various stages of maturity, the answer is yes - at least in the eyes of their consumers. Not all of those products were done in by a shoddy idea or a flawed design, either. Many were just too complex to communicate their core features, overwrought with too many goodies to ever catch on.

Designers and engineers set out to make people's lives better and solve problems through product. They have big ideas for their products and the plethora of things they can do now and in the future. Why wouldn't the world want an app that can do everything, or a piece of software that eliminates the need for any other? As many entrepreneurs have discovered, what people really need is much simpler than that.

Start the M-V-P chant to better test your idea.

A minimum viable product is not a fully-formed, five years down the line product. While you should always have your sights set on future versions and iterations of your idea, jamming them all into your first release will obscure the core of what your product is all about.

Releasing your MVP is all about testing assumptions you've made. You may have an idea of what your customers want, but without testing via user feedback, you can't be sure of what they actually need. And nothing warps customer feedback more than a version of your product with too many bells and whistles making your product too complicated to navigate and use.

Refer back to your company's goals: "our product exists to blank." Whether it's making a complex process easier, helping people communicate more efficiently or even order food faster, give your early adopters the most crystallized form of your intended experience. Don't strip everything away, but focus on what matters most first so you can either validate that your idea is needed or figure out what small additions will make your product stand out among similar, established ideas. Simple doesn't mean "basic" or "not enough." Most times, simple is a lot more work to reach.

Remember, you won't always get to control the way a user interacts with your product as it finds its way into more hands. During the MVP stage, every effort should be made to reduce the number of steps and clicks it takes your audience to accomplish what you'd like them to. If it helps, use Feng Shui principles of minimalism and decluttering to inspire you to build better.

Think like your target user.

Companies making enterprise software run the risk of being done in by their own naivety. Rolling out products intended to be used on a wide scale by corporate employees does no good if those same employees can get more out of a simpler, more familiar consumer-targeted product. That's exactly what's happening for the nearly 50 percent of application users and IT execs who are abandoning enterprise products in favor of tools that offer an easier to use, less clunky and cluttered experience.

Even in cases where companies have developed proprietary software, using said products actually hinders productivity. Complexity comes with a lot more development time, and for workers forced to navigate through an overload of different screens, many of which don't translate to mobile anyway, leaving sanctioned software in the dust is a necessity to get work done. If you're developing B2B products, you can't design with a large corporation in mind. Remember that your ultimate end users are real people, and iterate down to the features they need to make their jobs easier.

The problem with complex design isn't always as simple as including too many unnecessary features. Many designers do a great job of listening to their audience and including exactly what's necessary based on feedback. But they then bungle the hierarchy of those features out of fear that bigger audiences won't discover all that's great about the product.

In today's cluttered landscape filled with similar ideas, there's an understandable pressure to make a great first impression with your audience. Good design manages to communicate just enough about the product while subconsciously inviting the user to learn more on his or her own. Early adopters don't expect to have everything there is in a product right away. So by prioritizing a key feature or two in design, you can stand out as the product that surprises and delights the most.

Published on: Oct 20, 2016