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The Case for a One-feature Product

Leslie Abuaf
October 25, 2021

I would consider myself a pretty basic user when it comes to apps. I usually don’t pay for premium services, that was until I had a baby and desperately needed to get her to sleep. Before her birth, I used to find my music either on YouTube or Spotify - my music taste is quite random, so I actually welcomed the recommendations and flowed with whatever played next. I was certainly not a committed user. Ad interruptions didn’t bother me either. 


When my daughter’s sleep routine became a part of my life, I needed a classical, baby sleep music playlist, without interruptions. Spotify addressed a very specific need for me, which had nothing to do with any of its elaborate features. I was simply a very tired mom who wanted her baby to sleep. At this point, not only did I download the app, I also subscribed to their premium paid plan.


If you look at Spotify today, it is a very complex product. For those who are into it, it has endless features and goes well beyond listening to music. For example, they offer a selection of podcasts, private listening, group sessions, concert schedules, and more. For me, none of these additional features matter. I probably use 1% of what the product has to offer, but nonetheless, I am an equally committed user. This happened because Spotify drew me in by addressing a very specific need and offered me a very simple solution.


If you look at the product adoption curve, it classifies user profiles based on their enthusiasm or hesitation to adopt a new product.


A common pitfall for people who design and develop products is that they often focus on early adopters. Part of the reason is because creators tend to be early adopters themselves, so they exist within this mindset. Early adopters represent a very different profile of users who have a high learning curve, are curious and have a more exploratory, experimental approach. While this is good as a vision, when creating a product for the masses, you need to also think about the late adopters. 


Especially for those on the latter end of the curve, late adopters and laggards, it is critical to simplify the product down to a basic, single feature in order to draw them in and welcome them to your product, let alone to have them adopt it. This strategy of using a one-feature product as a hook is an elegant way of attracting and converting  new users. Once they are past the adoption stage, all the additional features (bells and whistles) that your product has to offer can help in their retention.


Let’s consider an analogy that may better depict the user experience for complex products that don’t use this one feature strategy: Imagine a new driver’s experience of having to drive a racecar down the road to the grocery store. 

Objectively, a racecar is a very fancy, complex, and fast vehicle – maybe every other confident driver would jump at the opportunity to test it out; however, for a new license owner (late adopter/ laggard), this would be a very intimidating and overwhelming experience. Because of it, the new driver may even lose sight of his need to get to the grocery store and is now focused on the racecar, which is a means to an end, not the primary objective of the experience.  

In other words, the cliche of “less is more” can be applied to product design and development from both a strategic and marketing perspective. 


While it is easier said than done, through deep understanding of user aspirations, motivations, needs and pain points, Q can help identify your product’s one feature to aid in expanding its adoption.

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