You need an MVP. Yes, I just used a classic phrase of venture-capitalist balderdash. I'm sorry, but stick with me here. For all the mistrust of VC funded product in our community, there's a valuable lesson in this phrase.
You need an MVP. A Minimum. Viable. Product. Let those words sink in for a moment. What do they mean to you? Do they conjure up images of half-baked solutions? Do they smell of shipping too fast and not paying enough attention to your users? For many of us, that's probably the visceral feeling in our gut. Someone who wanted to create just enough but no more.
The fact that we feel this way is a great testament to how many people fail to make good products regardless of funding. Whether jargon-assisted or not, shipping a product is hard. It's even harder to get it right, get it out on-time, and at a reasonable cost.
But what really makes a product great? I think all great products meet a very simple definition — they solve a need in a delightful, thoughtful, and simple way. They can can delight in any number of ways — they may be fun, beautiful, engaging, sarcastic, unexpectedly helpful, efficient or novel. They are thoughtful in their execution and in their organization. It becomes clear in the first few moments that great craftsmanship and attention was paid to how things work, how they look, how they flow, how information is organized, and by what they put in front of you as well as what they don't. Great products are simple. Not in a dumbed-down way, but in a way that becomes clear that the makers thought long and hard about how something should work and how to expose only the necessary level of complexity. And their utility is clear — from building photorealistic 3D renderings to being an efficient way to amuse myself on the subway, their purpose is clear and valuable to someone.
The essential thing to realize is that this definition says nothing about number of features, technical superiority, algorithmic efficiency, or any other metric we so often pay attention to as engineers and designers. In fact, as often as we prize beautiful apps over their less beautiful counterparts, what often matters more is solving a problem appropriately for your audience. Photoshop isn't beautiful, per se, but it's effective. Instapaper has never been fancy or particularly beautiful, but it has been wonderfully simple, purpose-built, and focused from its inception. Few would call a well-designed nuclear power plant control panel beautiful, but if it provides the right interface and the right controls in the right places, the operator might consider it a great product.
I have watched too many developers over the years focus on the wrong things in their products. Some endlessly add feature upon feature and take so long to ship that their users have long since moved on. Others endlessly rework a feature in pursuit of some nebulous technical excellence that isn't necessary and whose pursuit certainly doesn't pay the bills. And others find themselves constantly moving the target they're trying to hit, redefining the features, UI, or problem-space of their product in a continual reaction to the world around them. These are easy traps to fall into. After all, we're all human and most of us are making it up as we go.
The common problem for all of these ailments is simply a lack of focus. It seems silly that in an industry where we have long idolized a man famous for preaching focus, and claimed to incorporate it into our own lives, that we have so routinely failed to deliver on this ideal. My theory is that we simply focus on the wrong things. We think focus means features or that focus means perfection or beauty or uniqueness. But the focus that Steve preached was a focus on delivering great product. The key word here is "deliver". Real artists ship.
You need to get your product out the door and into your user's hands. The very act of someone touching and using your product will inherently change what you think you know about it and how you envision people using it. You will change your mind, you will change your plans, and things you used to think were important will melt away and be replaced by other needs and priorities. Having real users is a formative event for a product and one you shouldn't artificially delay.
As you look at your products and how you make them remember these key points. You don't need all the features under the sun. You don't need technical excellence (assuming you also avoid technical debt). You need to solve a worthwhile problem in a delightful, thoughtful, and simple way. Once you've done that, all the rest of your features will pale in comparison or be perfectly suited to deliver in the fullness of time. Products need life cycles and continual growth, and your features will be welcomed down the line by your happy users.
In the meantime, focus on your minimum viable product. And make it great.