Quick Wins

4 min read

How to Evaluate if a Feature is Worth Building?

In this short video, Stef explains his 2-step process of evaluating feature ideas.

I’ve been working with founders and product leads for over 15 years now, and the most frequent mistake I see when people are building digital products is that they keep adding feature after feature, thinking this would make their product even more amazing. Then – bam! – their product is dead before it even took off, because they wasted valuable time and resources on the wrong features and objectives.

But how do you know if this feature is actually worth building? I agree: it’s such a scary decision to make, especially when you’re small. You want to stay competitive, and your industry is booming. However, I have 2 main steps to assess if a feature is worth investing in:

  1. Pick the one metric that matters – growth people like to call it the North Star Metric – and analyse how this feature will impact this metric. It’s almost choosing the reverse path: instead of assessing feature after feature, think about the most important result you’re trying to achieve for your product within a given timeframe and focus on the features that will contribute to pushing your North Star Metric. This tactic is extremely important for small startups that have millions of things to improve, but in reality the only features that matter are the ones that impact your growth.
  2. The next approach I use is very similar to what growth teams use to prioritise which growth experiment to run next. Once you’ve shortlisted the features based on step 1, you give each one of them a score out of ten for the following 4 categories:

- Impact

- Confidence

- Speed

- Budget

What are they about?

Impact is how much it will impact your North Star Metric. What would be the return on investment?

Confidence is how confident you are that this will really have a positive impact on your product. Do you have enough quantitative and qualitative data to back this assumption?

Speed is a no-brainer: is it going to take a couple of weeks to ship this, or are we going to drag this out for months?

And lastly: budget. The cheaper the feature, the higher the score. This is, of course, not related to a specific amount but more how much of an investment this feature is for your company. Would it be a massive strain or easily affordable?

In reality, even after thinking through the answers to these questions, you’ll have a clearer idea if a feature is worth building, but I also like to do the scoring and use this system with most of my clients. Let me know what you think in the comments below and also what methods you’re using.