Jan Miksovsky’s BlogArchive2011 AboutContact

Your most recent feature probably should NOT be the most prominent element of your UI

A colleague once showed me the main toolbar for an app they worked on, and offered an archeological exposition of when and why each button had been added. The first three buttons represented the app’s core functionality, and had been on the toolbar since the app’s first release. All the other toolbar buttons had been added in successive releases. Each time one of those features were added, it had been deemed vitally important to give the feature prominent placement on the toolbar. There those buttons had remained to the present day. But when the team monitored click-through across all toolbar buttons, the first three buttons accounted for nearly all user clicks. Those other buttons were permanent meaningless clutter, doomed to forever confuse and distract users from the first three, meaningful buttons.

When adding a new feature to an app, there’s an almost irresistible tendency to put that new feature front and center in the UI. After all:

But, wait—is this new feature really so important that it should now be the dominant element in your UI?

It’s appropriate to make a new feature visible; just make sure that, from a user perspective, the prominence of the entry point for the feature corresponds to its priority in the updated app’s overall functionality.