Last week we launched a new feature in Highrise called Public Contact Cards.

The idea
Public contact cards make it easy to share someone’s contact information with anyone who needs it. For example, if a friend asks if you can recommend a plumber, and you have one you’d recommend in your Highrise account, you can share that plumber’s public card with your friend — even if they don’t have their own Highrise account. Now your friend has all the information they need to get in touch with the plumber.

The feature that could have been
As we thought about how to implement public contact cards we started thinking about all the possible options we could offer.

  • One-click to import the data into your own Highrise account
  • hCard support
  • Email this contact info to someone
  • Subscribing to the data so you’ll get updates if it changes
  • And the list goes on…

The feature that is
When you face a long list of possible add-on features you need to step back and ask yourself: “What’s the core value? Why are we building this core feature?” In the case of public contact cards, the core value was being able to quickly share someone’s contact information over the web with anyone you want. It wasn’t hCard support, it wasn’t subscriptions to contact information, it wasn’t one-click import into your own Highrise account, etc. Those things might be nice, but they aren’t part of the core value. The core value is the simple display of the contact information. That’s 90% of the value.

48 hours
Because we said no to all the stuff public cards could be, we were able to go from an idea over dinner, to design, to coding, to testing, to implementation, to launch in about 48 hours. Had we said yes to some or all of the other stuff we could have done, we likely wouldn’t have launched the feature yet. And we’d probably never get to it because there are more important things to spend 2 weeks on. For 48 hours worth of work it was worth it. For 2 weeks of work it wasn’t.

So keep core value in mind. Execute on the basics beautifully and leave the “it would be nice” and “wouldn’t it be cool if” extra features for another time. Get 90% of the value out the door as quickly as you can. The remaining 10% often sucks up far more development time than it’s worth.