December 13, 2006, 3:02 pm
The Complexity Behind Simplicity
By Lisa Agustin
The idea of simplicity has been getting a lot of press lately, with the popularity of gadgets like the iPod and the release of thoughtful writings by folks like John Maeda. Joel Spolsky offers his own take on the issue, suggesting that what makes “simple” products successful isn’t so much about what they are lacking, but more about what they encompass:
Devotees of simplicity will bring up 37signals and the Apple iPod as anecdotal proof that Simple Sells. I would argue that in both these cases, success is a result of a combination of things: building an audience, evangelism, clean and spare design, emotional appeal, aesthetics, fast response time, direct and instant user feedback, program models which correspond to the user model resulting in high usability, and putting the user in control, all of which are features of one sort, in the sense that they are benefits that customers like and pay for, but none of which can really be described as “simplicity.”
This brings to mind client requests for web site features that look clean and simple, but in fact are quite robust in their functionality. (“Can you make it like Google?”) Making something complicated is easy; making an elegant solution that addresses user needs, business goals, and content requirements–all while offering a positive user experience–is another matter.
This captures exactly why products fail or succeed. We the (owners of products) think because they are complex we need to get that across, while they (the consumer – commercial or business) want simplicity.
As I heard today communications is about what the recepient sees, hears and touches – usally the opposite to what we visulise, say or give to them.
Simple is innovative complexity that is successful.
Posted by redshane2 on December 21, 2006 at 3:04 pm