We’ve all been working on our newest product SlideDeck and I’ve personally learned quite a bit from our community. While working on updating the SlideDeck plugin and answering community support requests I’ve found that many of the questions and requests can be translated into features that should be put on the road map. Sometimes it’s necessary to decode these requests and figure out which to implement, as design by community can get messy if left unchecked.
Adding an autoplay option to our standard SlideDecks in WordPress was a “no brainer”. We got about a dozen requests directly from our users in plain English: “Can you please add the option for Autoplay in the WordPress plugin?” or “Where do I find the option for Autoplay?”
In this case, the answer is obvious: Many people want it so add the feature.
Other potential features are harder to decode due to the infrequency of the suggestion. One user asked about changing the length of the excerpt text (shortened summary) in our new Smart SlideDecks. He was promptly told how to do this by one of our developers, who explained that he would need to edit the code. A week later we got an email from another user asking the same thing. At this point we started to wonder if this should be added as an option.
The decision to add this as a feature needs a bit of decoding: Do I add a feature just because two users requested it? Will it complicate things? Will other users even use the feature?
Keep It Simple, Then Iterate
SlideDeck’s Smart SlideDeck feature has had an excellent reception. Its strength seems to be the near-zero effort required to add it to your WordPress site.
I am glad that we’re updating the interface in an iterative way; it could have overwhelmed the users at first if we didn’t keep things simple. Now we’re adding features on an “as-needed” basis.
Listening To Users
Design by committee or community is usually asking for trouble, but if you allow the vocal users to initiate these design and feature requests, you might be surprised at how much valuable feedback they contribute. Listen to your users, but try to filter their complaints into constructive criticism.