Product managers like Sara fret over feature usage. A sign of maturity for a product team is when they keep track of feature usage. Usually, it’s in a leaderboard format. A sign of a great Product Manager is to implicitly understand that not all measurements are the same. A drop in feature usage doesn’t always mean that it should be dealt with immediately.  Feature usage depends on the ebb and flow of the user’s jobs to be done.  

The question we really need to ask is – When should product managers fret over a decline in feature usage?.  Here are two categories of features where you need to start jumping up and down when you see a declining usage trend

User Journey feature: The feature is in your critical user journey pathץ Example:  Users are not saving a document in your online document editing tool.

North Star Impact feature: The feature is directly affecting your North star metric.
Example:  Document sharing has reduced over the last three months. Sharing a document drives your north star metric ie. the number of sign-ups in your document editing tool.

There is another approach that helps with discriminating features. You can link features to a User Persona. This is where you can segment Active Users (AUs) by Active Personas (APs).  After this you can start looking at Actively Used Features (AUFs).  This requires a strong alignment beforehand with Product Marketing.  That is an article for some other day.

To summarize – don’t fret about single feature usage. Pay attention to the two feature categories mentioned above. Instead of chasing down a vanity usage metric, see if you can paint a more holistic picture around usage by grouping features.  If you’re a great Product Manager you can get the customer to use features that matter. The perceived value of your product will rise as you understand feature discrimination well.