Avoiding feature creep in websites and web apps

Feature creep is common with a lot of businesses do to the endless possibilities of creativity within a design. However, adding more isn’t always the best for a product and can make things a lot more complicated. When a product becomes complicated, it loses its effectiveness, which in turn loses customers. Customers desire simple yet effective designs, not designs that have so many ad-ons that it takes hours to figure out. When you continuously add to a product past its original scope, this is feature creep. This is the most common way businesses fail with design – when the cost and schedule overruns its result.

Feature Creep Has Been Around For Generations

One example of a feature creep would be with the vintage Swedish war ship Vasa. In 1628, is was built originally to hold 34 canons. However, the builder of the ship decided to make it ornate and very detailed. They added more to create 64 cannons, with additional carvings and sculptures. This ended up costing Sweden 5% of its GNP. Vasa then sank, only on its voyage for less than a mile. The result – the ship sank because of feature creep – its continuous expansion beyond its original plan.

Does Feature Creep Happen Often Today?

Today, this often happens because features are so easy to add on to products. Marketers think they know what the customer wants, but they end up overestimating and don’t go for the customer’s needs.Believing more is better is a common misconception, and promotes feature creep. In business, products have more features added to them instead of taken away. When a product had features added, it becomes more complex, which costs more money. Many electronic products are returned not because they weren’t working, but because they couldn’t figure out how they worked. Adding ends up having little effect on customer experience, usage and customer service

How to Spot Feature Creep

When you are designing a product, look for signs of feature creep and inform your employees of their feature creep usage. Feature creep is hard to catch because changes often come a little at a time in design, which is why it’s known as feature creep, because it slowly creeps up on you.
Make sure the features are just for customer needs and not for an addition of convenience or to make it look more appealing Every good product that is released needs to not only be asked what should be added to it, but what should be taken away. Finally, make a milestone for the project so you do not add more features to the product. This way, the product targets your customer’s need for convenience and effectiveness.

Google’s ‘Possum’ Algorithm Update

Many people are having trouble finding their local rankings on Google, and cannot figure out the problem. With Google’s latest ‘Possum’ Algorithm update, your business rankings are not gone, they are just filtered under different words.

The Google Update

This recent update has just affected the ranking in the three pack and local finder (local or Google Maps results). The update was included with reasons being to help control spam, improve rank, and diversify the local results. The main thing that was addressed was Google’s filter for local search results. Based on reports for search rankings, this is the biggest update since Pigeon from the year 2014.

Changes Applied in Further Detail

1. Business that are outside the city boundary had a surge in rankings
Before the update, there were businesses that didn’t fall into any city’s boundary according to Google maps. They would have a hard time using keywords for ranking if they were included in a city. Now, the new update has these businesses ranking again, and even have a huge spike in their rank! After the update, many businesses went up about 21 positions.

2. Filters are Done by Address and Affiliation
Profiles were filtered out with a shared number or domain by a local filter based on local results. An example would be a doctor’s office having 4 listings: one listing would be for the doctor’s office alone, and the other 3 would be for 3 of the doctors working there. One of these listings would show up in results and the others would be filtered out. If you search lawyers and 10 lawyers have the same address, one lawyer would show under this address in local results and the rest of them would be filtered out. The update is now filtering out business by the same address or in the same category.

But, it was discovered that normal search results with a filter will filter out businesses, but when you zoom in on the local search forum, you will see all of the filtered listings. According to this article by Search Engine Land, results are filtered on the Local Search Forum, and when you zoom in you can see the Google Results that have been filtered out of the search. The image below will determine just where exactly your Google search results are going.

 

local-filter-possum

Photo Credit: Search Engine Land

 

Not only will Google filter out like addresses in one instance, they filtered out a business that had 2 listings with 2 different business names, different phone numbers different addresses and different websites. Each time, the local search results were different; one listing would show up and the other would disappear. The owner said that these businesses are all in the same building even though their address is different. The business address will change due to the side of the street you enter from. This confirmed that Google results were not just based on the address, but even get more complicated.

Another instance would be a dentist who has 2 different dental offices. They are in different buildings with different addresses, different name addresses and phone number, different sites, different dentists, and not under the same Google account. But,the connection was that the Dentist owned both dental offices, which was listed on his business license. Google asks for a business license when a business is suspended.

Google’s filter in turn is not a penalty, but it picks out the profile that works best with the business. It will not remove listings, but will filter them out much like an organic filter.

 

3. The Update Makes the Location of the Business Important

startup-photosOne example of a business down South was they lost their ranking in the 3-pack with the new Google update. They had their main business headquarters in Alabama, but had another one of their businesses in Texas. Since they conducted the search from Alabama, they were seeing different results than they would if they were in their business in Texas.

For their business in Texas, the further you are away from its location, the ranking list would drop and you would zoom out further and further from the map. Their listing, if searched from Texas, would be number one in rankings. But, since they searched from Alabama, it was number seven.

To make sure your business gets the correct results and rankings, set the searcher location to the city your business is located. Bright local makes a tool that lets you change your location.

4. Changes in Keywords are Weighed Heavier than they were Before the Update

The 3-pack results are changing due to slight keyword differences. If you are searching “New York Doctor” or “Doctor New York”, you will get mixed results between these like keywords. Before the update, similar variations of the keyword would deliver the same results.

5. The Local Filter Runs more Independent than the Organic Filter

In the past before the update, Google would filter your website organically, which affected businesses negatively. The new update, businesses are now ranking much higher.

It separates more of the organic rankings than the local. If it shows up in organic rankings, it won’t impact the local rankings as much. But, with the new update, Google may have a hard time identify sites with similarities apart, which is why both the local and organic rankings are less connected than they were previously.

Summary

Over the past week, we have seen major changes with the update in Google’s search and rankings. Since search results are often not consistent, and there are a lot of different changes, this may be Google’s A/B testing to try out the best ranking methods.

The filters overall are running well, but Google will continue to look for patterns and bugs within the system.