Simplicity is the state of being uncomplicated, clear, and easy to use. Isaac Newton says, “Nature is pleased with simplicity.”
The question is, why do philosophers and scientists equally place stress on the importance of simplicity? They believe that simplicity is the quality that attracts and makes us understand things clearly. UX design involves the entire process of branding, designing, usability, and function of a product, keeping user experience at the top.
Steve Jobs mentions the phrase, “simple and easy to use’’ time after time in his talks, making us realize that simplicity is the most important feature of a product to make it user friendly.
Simplicity in UX is Overrated
Simplicity in UX is overrated because it is a widespread idea that ‘simple’ is far more attractive for users in comparison with ‘complex’. John Keats says, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.’’ Beauty lies in simplicity, which is considered enjoyable because it makes things easier to use.
Retaining the attention of people today is a difficult task because the internet is flooded with information and they have many choices to move with. The visitor of a page has very little time to stay on, so they must be provided with simple and easy to understand ideas instead of minute and complicated details.
The industry has developed the notion that consumers prefer items that are comparatively easier to use. Consequently, UX designers are doing their best to facilitate the users by gradually making things simpler. While trying to do this, they have to face a lot of complexities because making things simpler is not an easy goal.
To gain simplicity by eliminating complexity is out of context. Complexity is like energy; it can change its forms but cannot be removed completely. Simplicity in a UX context means decreasing the level of complexity as much as you can.
Simplicity in UX matters a lot, simply because it sells. Having a look at the interior of Tesla cars will certainly reveal that making things simpler is the best way of dominating the market. UX has revolutionized the tech industry, and the sole concern of the UX department is to gain maximum satisfaction from users.
Touch technology was introduced in mobile phones to ease users. This technology has traveled from mobile phones and laptops to the automobile industry. Now cars, following gestures and even voice signals, are leaving touch technology far behind. All of this has been made possible because of the invisible struggle of UX designers.
Tesler’s Law of UX (Law of conservation of Complexity or Waterbed Theory)
‘‘Every application has an inherent amount of complexity that cannot be removed. Instead, it must be dealt with, either in product development or in user interaction. “
Larry Tesler is of the opinion that designers have to go the extra mile to reduce complexity in the application, making users’ tasks easier.
Autopilot electric cars introduced by Tesla are now in fashion. The engineers had to deal with a lot of complexities in order to facilitate drivers. The constant factor of complexity remains there in both cases. First it was faced by the users, and now it is being faced by the designers.
The drone cameras are far better in performance and usage as compared to the heavy movie cameras used in the past. Drones have made the task of users very easy. It is evident that UX designers have struggled extremely hard to convert movie cameras into drones. There was complexity in the usage of movie cameras, which has been turned into the complicated process of product development for drones.
The opposing argument:
There is another view that it is not simplicity that is overrated in UX. Don Norman says that users demand simplicity in products, but they actually mean features. He states that features are more important than simplicity because the former are the ones that win over the latter.
The interpretation of simplicity in terms of features does not seem to be very appealing. We cannot find a user who will prefer a complicated machine over a simple one, though the fact remains that people, in some cases, prefer features over simplicity. Oversimplified things sometimes fail to attract clients because of poor user experience. Simplicity isn’t always engaging for all people because they have different skills, interests, and priorities.
Complexity is constant and simplicity is the requirement of the users. UX designers have to create a state of balance between simplicity and complexity. There is no way to get complexity removed from the field of UX, but there are various measures that can help designers to simplify things, here’s our list:
- Reduce distractions.
- Provide precise instructions.
- Maintain clarity in everything.
- Limit options.
- Avoid overly simplifying things.
This article was written by Interaction Design Scholar Aaisha Al Jabri. The graphic was created by Designer Jishnu Kidile.