Author Archives: Ben Sperry

About Ben Sperry

Pixel pusher and product builder. I'm a minimalist at heart. Say Hi to me on Twitter!

Creating Value ≠ Adding Features

I’ve been working on Codiqa with Max for a little over a year now. I’ve learned a ton. Indeed, the roller-coaster metaphor applies: there have been many ups, downs, lefts, and rights. Looking back, a lot has changed for us: We quit our jobs, became profitable, grew an amazing user base, created a second product, formalized an umbrella brand, and joined a pretty sweet program in Texas for three months. That’s a lot of change!

However, the one thing that hasn’t changed as drastically as I would have predicted, is Codiqa. Codiqa started out as a simple solution to a problem that both Max and I experienced in our day-to-day lives: it’s a pain to get a working mobile website or app in HTML5 up and running quickly. We built Codiqa as a way to solve our pain (and, as it turned out many other people’s). When it came time to launch publicly, Codiqa was immensely valuable from day one and grew to 10,000 users within 30 days. Here is what the beta version of looked like:

beta

The product was minimal, easy-to-use, and did one thing very well: easy visual prototyping coupled with production-ready HTML5. That’s it. Of course, there were some nice features integrated as well, but the main value of Codiqa was at the product’s core from day one. This is what Codiqa looks like now, roughly one year later:

On the surface, not much has really changed. Now, that doesn’t mean Max and I have been sipping margaritas on a beach somewhere. On the contrary; we’ve been working on Codiqa intensely since it launched. It’s simpler, faster, and more elegant than ever before. We didn’t waste time adding every bell, whistle and feature in the book. Why? Because they don’t really matter. Codiqa was already valuable from the beginning. Our customers told us this is, and we let them help guide our development. Adding more features for features sake would only dilute and clutter value, not enhance it.

I see a lot of startups launch products where the problem being solved, or, the solution being offered just isn’t there. Then, when no one buys the product they scramble to add feature after feature in the hopes of creating value. There’s nothing inherently wrong with adding a new feature, so long as it builds upon the value of your product and it’s something heard from your customers over and over again.

For example, our Codiqa customers love the way it makes jQuery Mobile easy to build and create with. After launching, we would often receive questions and requests about doing the same thing for the popular HTML5 framework, Twitter Bootstrap. It didn’t make sense for us to add Bootstrap support as a feature, because Codiqa is a mobile-first focused tool and an integral part of the jQuery Mobile community. Not to mention, it would bulk up the simplicity of the product that we feel passionate about maintaining. So instead, we used the technology that powers Codiqa to build a new tool, Jetstrap, that focused purely on Bootstrap and the booming community there. By doing this, we were able to create another revenue source, which is much more valuable than adding just another feature.

Don’t be that company who adds feature after feature with no regard to its effects. Be conscious of where your (potential) customers find real value. Ask questions. Listen. Features don’t always offer or return equal value.