Usually I write about my views on upcoming technology and all things related to internet. This is a bit broader than that. Of course, the idea is not new. It is the tag line of many companies and not only that Apple, as well as Jobs-its mentor, are ardent fans of Simplicity.
Let me cite a few examples-
- 0.1 iOS is herald over Android for its simplicity.
- 0.2 Mac has always maintained that its advantage is that it simply works.
- 0.3 Google homepage’s simplicity definitely takes it a notch up than the rest.
- 1 But, what is Simplicity?
- 2 1. People do not like to think.
- 3 2. Layers are more effective than outright show of everything.
- 4 3. Blandness increases bounce off.
iOS is herald over Android for its simplicity.
Mac has always maintained that its advantage is that it simply works.
Google homepage’s simplicity definitely takes it a notch up than the rest.
There are numerous other examples where simplicity has won over and has caused many startups to succeed where others to fail.
But, what is Simplicity?
This is a very complicated question in itself because it means one has to understand people and this is where problems come. For example, if the product is very feature rich, simplicity cannot always be the option.
If the product or site contains too much information it has to be somewhere, it cannot be hidden forever. This is what makes simplicity difficult to comprehend, especially for someone who is creating it as he or she knows the product too deep to find anything complicated.
Also, simplicity is different for different people and most products are made for masses. Let’s say you are making a site that creates a platform where teachers meet students. This platform can attract good teachers of a particular craft who are bad at computers or might attract students of the same kind. Now, these people are valuable users just not that tech friendly. Delivering something for them is what the actual challenge becomes.
My take on Simplicity is that it a few things need to be remember for it.
1. People do not like to think.
Whatever we all might think or believe the truth is that people like minimal thinking while moving around. Everyone enjoys a maze once in a while but no one likes to live in one. And computers are no less than a maze for someone new.Even changing OS one has to see where the files are and where the folders go. How to install the softwares and what not. The easier it is the better. Or alternatively, if one is used to it (Windows had this distinct advantage till Windows 7).
2. Layers are more effective than outright show of everything.
If everything is in one room it becomes cluttered. There should be layers with the first layer as clean as possible. It is like a drawing room of a house. It should not be claustrophobic but open. Let there be a store for the more gutsy people where everything is set and organized.
3. Blandness increases bounce off.
Despite a focus on clean interface or simplicity, it should never be forgotten that blandness is more repulsive than complication. If for a second, a person feels that the interface is bland people will move on to something more beautiful.
The first and third point might sound contradictory but if one thinks with the house metaphor it is not that difficult to understand. The drawing room if empty will be unattractive and so if it is cluttered. Any website, software or physical product needs to pass this house metaphor.
There has to be the main interface, which enthralls the user while not overwhelming him. Then there should be layers with more items and then only it can have a single room for the power users. It can have everything in it.
Side Note: We have recently done a design overhaul of Trak.in, and the biggest thing that we have tried to achieve is simplicity. Website design has become more dynamic in today’s world due to the number of connected devices that are used to visit them. With so many different devices, different resolutions, different screen sizes that access the web, offering them a consistent and simplistic experience is extremely difficult. We have tried that with our newest trak.in design… Simple without being bland. Do let us know your views on the new design!