Importance of Simplicity

8

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-

  1. iOS is herald over Android for its simplicity.
  2. Mac has always maintained that its advantage is that it simply works.
  3. 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.

simplicy-001

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!

  1. Windsun Greenergy says

    if you put all complex and interwoven in a simpler outlook then it becomes ' simplicity' to use and naturally becomes most powerful.there might thousands of programme/softwares behind google but outer or face looks so simple – directly asking user "what you want just tell me", look at this simplest equation but too much powerful E=mc2…………. // think the power of simplicity//.

  2. iankits says

    Hi Arun,

    I wanted to share this post but not able to find social media plugins for sharing. Instead, I can only see recently shared posts. The post is about simplicity, so I thought to make sharing simple. ;)

    Happy New Year 2013 and best regards,

    Ankit

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Hey…. you could not find the floating sharing bar on the left? I am actually quite surprised because I have tested it on various browsers…and it is quite visible to me atleast… Can you tell me which browser did you use?

      Or is it that you just missed it :)

      1. iankits says

        Hey! Nope, cannot see it. I am using Mozzila Firefox 17.0.1 version. I am using Flash blocker but activated every blocks on the screen but still not able to see it. :)

        That is why, I wanted to confirm as I know you love to see bugs. ;)

        1. Arun Prabhudesai says

          @iankits thanks for pointing out.. I will try and fix it. And about the bugs…what you said is true :)

  3. Altaf says

    It is very true not only for Websites. Simplicity has meaning in life too.
    In Industry, ISO teaches us many things. One of the basic things is take one task at a time. If the task can not be done in one piece, break it into managable sub tasks and try to do each sub task at a time. Same way if any of the sub task can not be done in one piece, again break it into managable sub sub tasks.
    In this way the top layer is the main task. The first layer consist of sub tasks. The second layer consist of sub sub task.
    Basically it looks like folders and subfolders.
    This kind of managing tasks gives us a clear picture of the issue. It gives us an idea of prioritizing tasks / sub tasks.
    Now take Google website. The home page is simple. If you look at the top, it leads where you want to go.
    In comparision, rediff home page looks like a fish market. (May be there are people who are used to the format, or may be some people like it that way). I just want to show contrast.
    Nice article on ideas.
    Just my two paisa :)

  4. Ronak Hindocha says

    overall look and feel is good. still can't comment holistically but just came across the right hand section titled "Recently Shared Posts". The like/tweet button give a very cluttered feel. Looks like its pushing me to share the post. If want to do that I would not do it just on the basis of the headline.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Ronak – Good observation and let me address that…we will probably remove those icons…and just keep the headlines, I guess that should resolve. The idea was not to force anyone to share, but to show how many times it was shared…thats all.. But point taken, after reading this and looking at it, I guess that is the only part that looks cluttered…

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