April 9th, 2007
Here’s a simple computer game: It asks you to enter your name, tells you, “You’re Right!” and declares you the winner. Simple? Yes. Fun? Probably not.
To be fun, games need a fair amount of complexity to them. That’s what makes them challenging. Yet, it has to be the right kind of complexity. Make it too difficult, or make the mechanics of game play too awkward, and the game loses its appeal to even the most hardcore player.
Balancing simplicity with making something useful is one of the biggest challenges designers face. For years, the K.I.S.S. mantra has been the cry of the community, yet we keep building things with more and more features.
Finally, heavy-weights, such as Don Norman and Joel Spolsky feel compelled to add their inputs: Maybe simplicity isn’t all that it cracks up to be? Maybe we need some level of complexity to make the users happy?
When we think about experience design, we need to think about the entire experience of our customers and users, not just the isolated instance of a single task. In a recent Harvard Business Review, the article, Feature Bloat: The Product Manager’s Dilemma, suggested consumers will likely choose a more feature-rich product over one that appears simpler, but they’ll be less likely to make future purchases from the same vendor if it’s not usable.
In this week’s UIEtips, Joshua Porter talks about the debate around simplicity and how this will affect each of us as we balance new functionality requests.
Have you found yourself facing the trade-off of simplicity over new features? What have you done to make your users happy? We’d love to
hear your thoughts. Add to the conversation in the comments below.
Josh and I will be speaking at the User Interface 12 Conference, November 5-8, in Cambridge, MA. We’ve just announced the program and it’s very exciting. A ton of folks have already signed up, so I bet it will sell out.
You’ll also want to check out Josh’s upcoming UIE Virtual Seminar on Wednesday. He’s been studying how sites are integrating social features and has put together some neat insights.Tweet