Is Your Site Suffering From Feature Creep?
Feature Creep - In case you have never heard the term, it's basically used to describe products and services that pack on so many features that they begin to get in the way rather than offer a true benefit. Websites are not immune to such problems, and more often than not features added with the intent of drawing people in actually end up pushing them away.
Below are two of the more common examples of Feature Creep we've seen on websites. Although neither of them are all-together 'bad' ideas, you should take a good long look at why you're using them before you decide to add them to your site.
Music - We all like music right? So why not put some on your website? There are some basic concepts you need to consider before putting music on your site. First: What genre of music does everyone that could ever possibly visit your site all agree on? Unless you're a band, there is none. Just because you like the music, don't make the mistake that other people are going to enjoy hearing it. Second: Visitors are coming to your site for information, not entertainment. Now, there are some exceptions but for most this is true. Third: The last time you sat down to read a book, did you put on some headphones and listen to some tunes? Didn't think so. Why would expect your visitors to want music blasting when they are trying to read the information on your site?
Widgets - You know those cute little, and sometimes no-so-little, icons, sidebars, counters, ads, plug-ins, link-backs, link-to's, social networks, and every other possible widget you can plug into your site? Websites are not charm bracelets. The goal is not to collect as many flashy thingies as you can just because you think they are cool. Your visitors are no longer impressed by what the web can do, they're impressed by the amount of quality information you have to offer. Don't let widgets get between your visitors and the reason they came in the first place. Take a good long look at what is actually adding value to your site, rather than the pride you feel when you've crammed one more flashy little thingy onto your homepage.
I think I can confidently say that you are the worst indicator of what is good for your website. Think of it like being a parent. No matter what your child looks like, or how they act, they are still the most beautiful creatures on earth...and rightly so. But, although you may have birthed your website with your own two hands, if you consider it your child that can do no wrong, your visitors will be the relatives that will only visit when your child is staying with friends.
Find some people you trust (and are willing to be honest with you) to evaluate your website. Have them point out the features that don't add to your web presence. And, although it might hurt, take their advice. Your site will look and function better, and your visitors will thank you.