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April 23, 2005

The Unfair Impression of Bloat

Part of the reason I go on the way I do about new features is that in many ways it can be counter-productive. As you'll notice, this marketing cycle Opera have decided that they're stepping away from the notion of an "Internet Suite".

Fair or not, real or not, people can be obsessed with bloat. In many software packages, this takes on the shape of a huge download, or a turgid, unimaginative and intractable UI. The paradox of features is also that you always want to make things better, to add more - and yet the more you add the more complicated a thing can get - and the more you can contribute to an impression of clutter.

To be clear, Opera's download is *tiny*, well under 4MB, about half that of Firefox. But really, now that dial-up is for chumps, I don't know how much of an advantage it can remain. I haven't done the math, but I'd think in terms of filled UI space at default install - that is where Opera's impression of bloat mostly comes from. The word Opera must learn to hate is clutter.

From a marketing perspective, features (or general 'newness') gives you the excuse to make noise and spread your message. The trap is that often times these new features contribute to the impression of bloat, and can make very boring press. As far as I'm concerned, Speed, Security, Simplicity should *always* be the message.

When you persuade people of things, the importance is often on the persuasiveness of the narrative - the painting of the manifest destiny. Obsession with minutiae can be counter productive - sure a changelog is more "informative", but it's also boring as fuck. You don't launch products by issuing a changelog.

I think Opera is starting to think huge. They want the huge market of people who don't want much from their browser. As long as it has a back button - they're set. For these people, Speed, Security, Simplicity is a great reason to move over in reaction to bad press/bad spyware (deserved or not) for IE, or even Firefox.

Of course Opera would want you to get the most out of your browsing experience, but that doesn't mean it should foist features on people for whom they aren't welcome. Simplicity.

Posted by subtitles at April 23, 2005 6:46 AM | Opera Boggling

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