Firstly, let me apologize if something that you requested hasn’t made it yet into DeskAway. Here is probably why:
Back in 2007-2008, we were obsessive about adding new features. How do we make DeskAway feature-rich so that we can get a lot more users? Our development plan was easy - build the stuff that was missing. Mind you, when we started, a lot of things were missing from the application. At that time, our user base was small and growing so many of the feature requests were things that were already in our pipeline.
Today, things are different. We think ’simplicity’. Our goal is to make sure DeskAway remains ’simple’ to use yet powerful enough to scale as your business grows!
A gush of feature requests
Our user base has grown in the last couple of years - users comprise of freelancers, entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses to groups within larger companies. These users are spread across many different types of businesses - web design, development, e-learning, e-commerce, hospitality, media agencies, SEO firms, airline departments, infrastructure companies, health-care, education etc. As you can imagine, requests for new features have increased on a daily basis - which is truly an amazing thing! Love it! Requests come in through email, our support site on Zendesk, GetSatisfaction community, Twitter and through our website contact form.
We are faced with a few challenges today. How do we satisfy the majority of the people, stay in line with our vision and not let feature-itis take over (with too many feature, you run the risk of increasing the complexity of the user interface).
The Chosen ones…
We have learnt to prioritize, listen and ask questions. Everything that comes in gets added to a spreadsheet (I am still looking for an app which can manage feature requests :-)). Requests that are repeated get a vote added to it. When an update to the application is complete, we go back and look at this list. The next set of features is chosen by going through the following questions…
- How popular is the feature?
- How long will it take to get developed?
- Technically, how complex is the feature and how will it affect other features and the user-interface?
- Will it actually enhance productivity and project tracking or is it just a decoration?
- Will it be relevant to a majority of users?
- Is it the next killer feature that will give us an edge? Not all have to be but something that can give us the edge will get a higher priority.
If in doubt, we probe our users for feedback - mostly through our monthly newsletter, GetSatisfaction and Twitter. Sometimes we just go on our gut to choose the ones that will make it to the list.
The chosen ones (typically a couple of large feature and a few small ones) are then fed into our project in DeskAway (yes, we walk the talk) and then tracked until they finally go live. Spill-over does happen, so we then move the uncompleted features to the next month. We try to leave some room for bug fixes and other small enhancements.
Managing features and deciding what gets done is quite an art and we are getting better at it everyday. I think the key is to ask if the feature is going to add positive and real value (simplicity, ease of use, power etc.) to our end users. With this as our guiding light, I think you can expect some really cool stuff in 2010 to help you get more done in less time!