When it comes to user experience and conversions, less is often more. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of removing elements from a page to improve the user experience. Too often, businesses focus on adding features to their website to solve problems or improve conversions. However, this can often have the opposite effect – coining the term “feature bloat.” Feature bloat occurs when a website or product has too many features, which can lead to confusion, a study by Forrester Research found that every additional field on a form decreases conversions by 11%. By removing elements that are not essential, you can simplify the page and make it easier for users to accomplish their goals. So why is it that businesses are so focused on adding features?

The Human Instinct

Because businesses are full of humans and fall foul to human bias’. When humans are posed with a new problem they are much more likely to consider solutions that add features rather than remove them. This is a cognitive bias known as the Availability heuristic. The availability heuristic dictates that humans judge the probability of an event by how easily examples come to mind. So when presented with a problem, our first thoughts are of solutions that add features because they’re more available to us.

Removing features or elements in an application is a lot easier than adding features. It’s also less risky. So why don’t we do it more often? The answer is twofold: first, we don’t like to give up features that we’ve spent time and money building; and second, humans are bad at estimating the value of something that isn’t there. This is known as the sunk cost fallacy. The sunk cost of preexisting features is a huge hurdle for businesses to overcome. We conduct existence testing with our clients to ensure each feature of an application or website is earning its keep!

 

Think Differently

Then what can we do to make sure we’re not missing out on high-performing but low-effort solutions? We need to be aware of our biases and make a conscious effort to consider all potential solutions, even those that seem counterintuitive. This can be difficult, especially when time is tight, but it’s important to take the time to explore all possible options before settling on a solution.

Having strong and objective prioritisation frameworks is great support. You can build in point weighting for solutions by removing elements. This will help you to compare and contrast different types of solutions more objectively.

There are some great examples from companies where removing features can have a massive impact. 

 

Learn From Others

Slack and their “Remote Screen Control” feature. This enabled users to take control over the screen and interact with the applications the host is sharing. 

“Slack ultimately decided to kill this feature. First, it was a niche feature, with relatively low adoption, which was not strategically aligned with the long-term goals of the company. Second, there was a high cost and complexity with maintaining it, especially as we were working through a re-architecture of the front-end.” Fareed Mosavat – VP of Programs and Partners, Ex-Director Product Growth at Slack

We run lots of experiments removing features, as mentioned previously Existence testing. One of the more recent ones for P&O Cruises is the removal of the sticky header. Sticky headers are when the main menu and other elements are fixed to the top of the screen as you scroll down. They are in vogue and are considered best practices in some industries. We found that the sticky header was impacting customers negatively, fewer people were progressing through the journey and purchasing the products significantly! Users were 1.3% more likely to progress through the journey. Our takeaway from this is to consider the value of a sticky header when selling complex products and test everything!