Build Boring Features

Internet companies are all about big visions, big ideas and big swings, but what happens after that first at bat? You’ve spent months planning your massively creative shift of the universe and the core of your product is out in the world. What do you do the morning after you launch? The answer: build the boring features.

The Startup Illuminati love to talk about the “growth hacker”, a magical hybrid of a marketer and a developer. Before you’re huge, everyone on your team should be a growth hacker. Pick the one or two numbers that need to grow* and only build things that increase those numbers. Get everyone on the team in a conference room and brainstorm 50 small things you could ship to grow your product. Do it tomorrow. Be sure you write down the small, boring, features because those are the ones you need to do first.

The features that grow numbers aren’t the massive endeavors you grow accustomed to while building a product from scratch. The pieces that make a difference are things like better sharing buttons and new ways to close the viral loop. Adding the “Sign in with Google” button to the Dispatch homepage was one of the biggest features we ever shipped. Total time to build it? 8 hours.

It’s easy to get distracted by the features that would be fun to build, but, in the real world, the changes that make a difference are often small and unsexy. It’s a slog, but those small, careful changes are how small audiences turn into big audiences.

* At big companies they call these KPIs.

 
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