Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Designing for Simplicity

Good article on designing for simplicity, by Rob Tannen, on Designing for Humans:

Some points I found interesting:

“Research by Accenture…found that only five percent of returned products actually have a malfunction – in many cases, the buyer has simply found them too complex to set up. Another study…found that the average U.S. consumer spends only 20 minutes trying to make a device work before giving up and returning it.”

He makes a great point about automatic improvements, using the example of automobile transmission: the example shows how complexity of the gear-shifting task was moved from the user (manual transmission) to the system (automatic transmission). Technically, though, automatic transmission is much more complex a system in its design. (In other words, design of simple interfaces isn’t simple.)

“In other words, what the end-user wants isn’t simplicity per se, but a simple way to access complexity.”

When we are challenged to do things like other companies known for their simple interfaces (such as Apple), we need to remind ourselves that it’s a lot harder to do that well.

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