Satisfactory is Worse Than Not At All

Upon purchasing a product, the user has implicitly placed their trust in you and your company. They trust that you are going to provide them with an excellent, if not outstanding experience — that you made the tough decisions about how that product should look, feel and behave.

This trust can also be found for each feature. The act of including a feature, no matter how small or large, gives the impression that it’s exceptional and something to be proud of.

Herein lies the issue. If including a feature sets the expectations so high, the user is disappointed if the experience is merely satisfactory. In addition, a feature’s existence prompts its use, so users become repeatedly frustrated.

What if you ship a feature only when it meets the expectations of the user, or even exceeds them? While the feature is being refined, the user can only set the same expectations as if it were included, as that is what they are able to imagine. When the feature ships, they will be delighted that the experience is so wonderful. While waiting, they will desire the feature, but not be directly frustrated because of it.

As an example, my Android phone supported copy/paste when I purchased it. However, only some apps supported the functionality and, when I could use it, it was horrible. Text selection was extremely difficult and I usually used a different solution in the end, but I would always try copy/paste first since it was available. This contributed in no small part to my overall frustration with the product and lead to me leaving the platform. Since then this feature on Android has been overhauled to be far easier to use and work consistently across apps.

Contrast that with iOS and when copy/paste was implemented. It received copy/paste later than Android (over two years after the iPhone’s initial release), yet hasn’t been largely modified in the three years since. Every time I utilize copy/paste on my iPhone, I barely notice it as it works so well and it worked in all apps immediately.

Had my Android not had copy/paste in the first place, I would have always resorted to the alternatives and not had the chance to become frustrated. I may have desired for it to be implemented, but frustration is far worse than desire.

As a user of many products in my life I would appreciate if more companies would refrain from releasing features until they are exceptional.