Avoiding feature fatigue on your website

What is feature fatigue?

Feature fatigue occurs when a product has so many options and features that the user becomes overwhelmed and can’t face using them all.

The user will either limit themselves to a small subset of the features, or abandon using the product altogether.

I think this concept can also be applied to websites, both in terms of design and copy. In this circumstance, feature fatigue can be used to describe a situation where there is so much content to read, and feature tables are so big site visitors can’t face reading it all.

The end result is that rather than being impressed by all the amazing features they can use, they leave your website. Here are my tips on how to avoid feature fatigue on your website.

The first step is to identify how it happens

When writing a brief for a website, or copy for your pages, it is very easy to fall in to the trap of applying the principle “more is more”.

The logical thought process is that you don’t want to miss mentioning a feature that could be the reason someone chooses you over a competitor.

However, with this mind set, every feature becomes as important as each other and you have to list them all.

Before you know it you have an essay of sales information and a feature comparison table that scrolls all the way down to Australia.

This information overload is too difficult to digest, and most visitors to your website won’t even try; they’ll go elsewhere.

Some tips to avoid feature fatigue

The most effective websites give you the most important information to start with, and then let you drill down further is you need to find out more.

Here are my rips on how to approach writing sales copy and avoid feature fatigue:

  • Identify your core features and highlight them first. Be strong and limit yourself to a handful at this stage
  • Use bold header titles that describe the benefits so people can just skim the page and still appreciate why they should buy.
  • Be concise in describing your product/ service features and their benefits. Short, punchy sentences/ paragraphs are important.
  • Use images to show a feature in motion, thus avoiding the need to describe it in text.
  • You don’t have to close the sale instantly with a dump of information. Give visitors the space to investigate further.
  • Start broad and get more specific as the user drills further in to the information. A feature comparison table has its place, just not on the first page. If people want that information, give them the links to read more.

Examples of websites doing it well

To help inspire you, here is a collection of websites who sell a range of technical products, but don’t overload prospects with too much information too soon.

Apple

Apple are masters of this. They limit their home page to one hero product, and on the product pages use glossy DG images with snappy paragraph headers, and single paragraphs per feature.

If you want to know the product specifications, that’s just one click away as well.

apple home page

Woothemes

Woothemes are a WordPress theme and plugin development business, and their ecommerce plugin “Woocommerce” has a fantasticly easy to read lay out that never overwhelms.

Woocommerce has a huge range of unique features, but they have resisted the temptation to throw them all at you at once.

Instead they have segmented the information in to categories such as “Customer friendly” along with links to drill down further to find out more about a feature.

Woocommerce

Wunderlist.com

A fantastic to do list program, Wunderlist uses a single image on its home page to let you interact with each feature in an attractive and innovative manner.

wunderlist

If there are any websites that you think showcase these principles, leave a comment below.


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