Forget About Software Configuration, Settings and Options – Choose the Right Defaults

Common pitfall “I am not sure what to do…. let’s make it configurable”

You hear this all the time in software companies – Some business analysts, developer or product manager trying to solve a dilemma in software development by pushing the decision to the end user side. “Let’s make it configurable” seems like a get-out-of-jail free card if you can’t make you mind about colors, screen layout and many other hard choices we have to make many time when designing our software.

People think they want free choice, while in fact they want the right choice.

It is a common mistake to think that making some aspect of your application configurable is necessarily a good thing. Software users rarely go into configuration and edit the software options to fit their needs. Users expect the software to work “by default” / “out of the box” / “no hustle”.

More choices less ability to choose

If you have to give a software user a choice, it is wise not to flood him with 100 options, most people work well with 2-4 options. The more options you give a user to make the less probable he we actually make a choice.

Bottom line

Making things configurable cost money, this money can be, more often, better spent researching for the right defaults and making the right “out-of-the-box” choices – Making the user happy by default.

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Amir Shevat

Amir Shevat is the global Startup Outreach lead in Google Developer Relations ( Previously, Amir Led Google Campus Tel Aviv and was the co founder of several startups.

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