Quora: Why should I remove features that are not popular?

My answer, originally published on Quora.

Q: Why should I remove features that are not popular?

I've read many articles that suggest that product managers should be removing features that are not used by users. If the team has already invested resources into building a feature that is not that popular, why should it completely remove it and cancel that investment?

I've also seen the number 2% quoted a lot, in the context of "if less than 2% of your users are using a feature, you should be removing it". Why is that?

My Answer

Why remove unused features? For the same reasons you get rid of clothes you no longer wear or old food that is rotting in your refrigerator.

If you keep every blessed feature in there forever, you will not be able to find the stuff you really DO need.

Within a few years, your users will find your product overwhelmingly complex and difficult to learn. Your product manuals will be thousands of pages.

It will also become much harder and will take longer for any bugs to be fixed or any important new features to be added, mainly because the code base will become so large that there are huge swaths of code that none of the engineers really understand; they'll need to do a lot of research before changing anything. Quality will suffer because it will be difficult to fully and completely QA so many features and paths through the code.

Have good Product Hygiene. Please. Throw out the features that are molding away, like that nasty slice of cheese at the bottom of your fridge's drawer.

Sue Raisty

Product management geek, born-again engineer, adoptive mother of boys, coach & mentor, mountain trail runner, tinkerer, no-bull communicator, wannabe writer, room mother & compulsive researcher.

Silicon Valley, California http://blog.sueraisty.com