Myth #8: The More Features, the Better

Don’t over-engineer your product for your target audience. When integrating technology into your product, remember: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

I recently bought new downhill skis and bindings. The sales rep at the ski shop was trying to impress me with the quality of the binding manufacturer. (For those of you who don’t ski, the binding is the apparatus that keeps you connected to the ski as you traverse down the hill.) He told me that one particular company is about to come out with the most advanced binding ever – a ski binding that will have its own computer chip and a small LED display on the binding itself. This binding will soon be available on high-end performance (read expensive!) skis.

Now in normal use, between twisting and turning down the slope, riding ski lifts and just transporting skis on airplanes, on car ski racks and even through the parking lots at ski areas, skis and bindings get quite a bit of abuse. LED screens and computer chips, on the other hand, are fairly fragile. I was wondering about the logic of marrying these two in one product, so I asked the salesman what kind of messages would appear on the LED screen of these high-end, performance bindings.

“Oh, that’s simple,” he said. “It will display ‘In’ to tell you that you have securely connected your ski to the binding before going down the hill.”

“How interesting,” I noted. “But don’t you think anyone who would be a target for these high-end expensive performance skis would already know how to figure out whether or not their ski bindings were securely fastened? In fact, if they can’t figure this out without a computer chip and LED display, maybe they shouldn’t be buying high-end performance skis!”

“Hmm, that’s a good point,” the sales rep said fairly sheepishly.

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