Simplicity

Simplicity. Overused term. Underused concept. Think about it. Simplicity in design is lauded, applauded and worshipped. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/129/truly-intelligent-design.html

Museums iconize; books idolize and most important, consumers champion the cause through purchase.

Yet, despite our fascination, despite the proof of concept that simplicity sells (be honest you’d much rather buy the brilliantly simple than the genius obsessed complex), we seem to rediscover the need for simplicity in our approach to life versus beginning with it as a key foundational principal.

Tom Osborn asked me to address usability. Specifically the lack of simplicity in web sites, mobile communications and the like. Why can’t we be like the corkscrew and its many spin-offs: simple, user friendly and fail proof….mostly…

Google. Friend, enemy or whatever is my touchstone here — my model , so far, for what simplicity means; what it drives and what it can accomplish.

Answer this. What do you think is potentially the single most valuable advertising real estate in the world?
If you said the Superbowl or World Cup you are wrong; if you think it’s the You Tube spoofs of the U.S. Presidential candidates you are equally wrong – but they are funny… — and if you think it’s a banner hanging on the Birge Dubai you are way off base.

Here is my bet,on an absolute basis it has to be; no question,the home page of Google – that beautifully designed white space with the simple bar for searching.

Now, before you conjure up all the great opportunities that might present, go look again – there ain’t any advertising there at all. Not a hint. Not a tease. Not so much as a click here for free anything (except occasionally more services). Simple. Clean. Not just user friendly – this goes beyond – it’s user centric. Simplicity. CRM – Customers Really Matter.

I’d posit that Amazon is in that class as well. The entire site is designed to give you control. It is not designed to pull you down rabbit holes lined with “sticky” matter so that your eyeballs are elongated and maximized for advertisers. It has been created and fine tuned so that you can find stuff you want and buy with one click – anti-sticky – if you will. Another UC site – user centric. CRM – Customers Really Manage.

Yet with two great examples in front of us – and there are more – the proliferation of complexity, of redundancy, the continued discussion on “stickiness,” and the lip service paid to simplicity, boil my blood.

And by the way this argument extends to all facets of our lives as well.

Follow the commentary on the economic crisis and see if you can trace its roots back to the loss of simplicity in the way money was lent, borrowed and used. Look at the so-called “instruments” for investment that were developed to create more wealth (for its creators) and required labyrinth explanation or perhaps were designed that way…if you see my point.

Bottom line – simplicity is what life is about. Not the phony simplicity of pretending to be simple (oh those politicians…) but the kind of simplicity that makes our life better; easier; more fun.

Think wheel.

And here is a final thought:

“A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understand hard things”
~Herman Melville

Mouthing or designing or promoting hard things does not require “hard words”…see the point?

Keep it simple –
And what’s your view? Any good examples to share?

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