Design for Simplicity

My presentation from a workshop I lead at work on design for simplicity. Below are the notes for each slide:

2. Simplicity can be divine. When done right.
When done right, you will find people using your product as if it were an extension of themselves.
They will be focused on what they can do with it, rather than on how to operate it.
You will find people understanding the main messages of your presentation or document, rather than drifting away.
When done right, simplicity is elegant, exciting and positive. Powerful.zen.

3. But it is not easy to achieve. It requires effort, dedication and sophistication.
It gets worse.Once you have achieved simplicity, if you’ve done it right, it can be under appreciated.
People seem to think the solution was obvious due to its simplicity.
Effortless requires a lot of effort.

4. This guy branded his products by simplicity. He did pretty well.Notice the borrowed motto…

5. Within this sentence lay the 2 causes of complexity: many parts and the arrangement of the parts.
Complexity. It has its pluses – but for today lets just call it evil. It’s simpler.

6. Complexity happens.No one intends to create complex systems or documents unless they are lawyers.
No one says lets make this thing as complex as possible so nobody can understand it, read it, or use it.

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8. The first enemy of simplicity is sheer amount.
Amount of features. If you are writing a presentation it’s the amount of contents you feel you need to include in the presentation. Same for e-mail. All people guilty of featuritis please smile now…

9. Amount of hardware pieces, input devices, buttons, controls, cables. Many times happen due to constraints of time and resources.No time to invest in designing it better. We are already concentrating on other features.
In the long run of course, this costs more to everyone. (2007)

10. Amount of UI elements, colors, sizes, fonts, text, animations

11. The second enemy of simplicity is how we put all the components together. Dependencies, conditions, order create one big mess.We can tell it is a mess because it is impossible to change. Each small change is linked to so many other things it becomes a nightmare. The type of components we use when we code – Components that we don’t understand (black boxes), that are dependent on each other, loops,

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15. What does it mean? No simpler? It means that we have to explore and find out the essence

16. Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful Maeda
thoughtful reduction What is the main problem you would like to solve, base it on user needs & current frustrations – think of several ways to solve it. Design for the mainstream. Remove what can’t be implemented properly.
The question that needs to be asked is “Why should we keep this”
Thoughtful reduction, remove options. Sacrifice features that are used by only a small percentage of your customers or that you cannot implement properly.

17. –

18. Advertising learned the lesson pretty quickly

19. Once the content of the components is clear. We can use several basic laws of organization to tell the user more about the relationship between the components.Every detail about our components bears meaning: the form, the size, the color, its placement, it’s relation to other components.If we use these attributes to convey relevant meaning – we directly affect the person’s understanding of the system.

20. Create hierarchy. Not everything is of equal importance. Show the person where to focus.

21. Organization makes a system of many appear fewer – Maeda
Our mind is trained to better understand details when we give the meaning as a group.
Chunking relieves us from seeing and deciphering each component on its own.
Gestalt principles
Closure – we want to see simple closed forms.
Continuity  – we want to see continuous lines and curves (from smaller elements)
Similarity (shape, color, size, orientation) they will be associated with each other
It is about the relationship between the parts and chunking – Designing interaction – Jenifer Tidwell

22. Let’s have an Oprah moment. This closet is about to have a makeover. First of course is remove.

23. Next is the organize. What elements of organization were used here?Notice how similarity, color and orientation are used to group appropriate items. It makes us look at them as groups. We find them effortlessly.Setting all the clutches in a row we create continuity that is easier on the eyes. This organization will also ensure that we don’t miss out on a valuable item, just because we couldn’t see it in the mess. Sure, we had to put some effort in the organization, but it returns itself in the long run.

24. We need Focus. We cannot focus everywhere.

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26. Here’s an example of an attempt to rescue a person who’s confronted with an unfamiliar set of remotes. The owner was away for the weekend and decided to help the friend who was coming to stay. She wrapped the remotes in paper to hide the redundant buttons and labeled the useful ones in plain language.
Bad Design / Good Design Bill Moggridge

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28. Savings in time feel like simplicity.

29. Or no more than 3 taps. No more than 2 sentences. Dogma is a simple rule which has no exceptions. It requires a boss which no one will defy.
It works.
It is hard on the workers.
It needs to be accepted by all.

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32. Rich Hickey – Without initial design for simplicity in the architecture of a system, the design of the system turns into an elephant that can’t be moved or changed.
Complexity is derived from an architecture of pieces that are intertwined in each other making every change almost impossible.

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34. I found these helpful…If you choose just one, be it Giles Colborne’s book which is simple and usable in itself


3 thoughts on “Design for Simplicity

  1. I’d add another aspect of what you presented with the RC example. Part of the criticism on Apple Computers 😉 back in the 80’s referred to its “closed architecture” in comparison to the “open architecture” of the IBM PC. A closed architecture is an expression for simplicity, it is the designer’s way to reflect only the things that matter. Of course gadget lovers and amateur technicians would prefer open source, but for most people closed architecture is a blessing.

  2. Thank you for sharing! Simplicity is really something that we need to keep in mind as UXers. I plan to read Simple and Usable soon, my UX friends strongly recommended it to me 🙂

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