This is very true and apt story in daily product development work. However, adding options and constraints are like addiction to some product developer and it is very difficult to pull them out unless few major failure - of product abandoned on launch pad. This is very costly mistakes and it cost many jobs and less profit.
I would suggest Simon to conduct corporate training for this concept. Once product specifications are defined - that is it. No more change allowed. Thanks again for this story.
For the very best examples of how an excessive amount of features can turn a product into junk, look at the microsoft offerings over the last 15 years. Each generation of OS is more bloated than the previous one, more subject to all sorts of reliability issues, and in general, less useful and certainly harder to use. All this while being touted as better and more powerful than the previous version.
Remember that when one size fits all, it doesn't fit any that well. I have been making that assertion for many years and it still is true, both for socks, shirts, and operating systems.
I think deep down they probably like having a budget because it limits what they can do based on a cold, hard finance consideration - no budget, while might seem a dream means that the engineers now have to find other constraints to work. These constaints would have to be determined internally which would cause headaches and divisions in the team as it would come down to opinion rather than "hey, that's the budget - there's nothing else we can do"
That's an interesting point, similar to softwares Pro and Basic versions. I'm not sure how you would design hardware in such away but it could provide an interesting ways to catch both sides of the market. I have to say that my main point in the article was on consumer products (TVs, coffee makers, phones etc) but there are cross over products that cover both consumer and proffessionals.
My argument is "less" is an art. A product can be built to make our life a little easier by simplify the operation to suit most people demands. However, at what point you shall stop the simplification process. For example, how many clicks are necessary to make a photo shooting apps simple enough to use and allow the photographer to add some 'spices' to the photo?
Just to be slightly a devil's advocate here, I've often discovered that if I buy something with partial knowledge, I want simplicity and ease of operation. However if this object continues to interest me, I invariably wish for those features that the more expensive cousin objects have, but that I didn't think, at time of purchase, were all that necessary.
In short, perhaps it's not just about a techie vs non-techie client. Perhaps sometimes "less is more" works at first, but then the buyer starts craving that "more is more."
Thanks for the post, you raise some key points. The discussion about design constraints reminds me of an interview that I did with one of the lead engineers for the engine design for the Joint Strike Fighter. He said that up until this contract, engineers were given a budget to work with and would always complain, "We can't work with that budget, it's not enough money!" For the JSF, there was no budget given, rather the engineering team had to provide their own cost estimate, based on specs. And guess what? In that case, engineers complained, "No budget? Wait, we can't work without any budget!!" It would be interesting for you to talk about the art of establishing constraints and the trade-offs and decision-making process around that.
what you're arguing is extreme oversimplification. Instagrams selling point is the FACT that is extremely simple compared to something like photoshop which is what people would have had to use before. You're basically saying that if it has NO features it is too simple. Well, obviously. At that point it isn't even a product!