Humans are Feature Creep

Feature creep is the concept given to a product in development when scope explodes beyond control. Build a folding knife and add a razor and tweezers, you have a classic Swiss army knife. Add a file, scissors, spoon, fork, USB drive and you have feature creep, a product with so many features fused together none are truly effective. This theory relates to nature quite well.

Hawks are experts fliers and hunters, beavers are excellent builders. Spiders can knit a web before your eyes. And wolves are pack animals made for stealth.

Humans are… well we are hunters, gatherers, builders, pack animals, and much more. We can’t hunt nearly as well as the hawk though, not without constructing tools first. Beavers can build a dam without drafting. Spiders don’t need to be taught how to knit. And wolves are naturally pack animals.

Humans have all the skills of these animals but are natural experts at none of them. We suffer feature creep. We have so much ability but have no natural aptitude at any of them. It’s ironic that we as designers promote simplicity when we are by our very nature the opposite. Is it possible for humans that are so expansive in skills to actually design simple products?

This post was originally written back in March and got lost in the draft pile

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