Simplicity the best? - User Experience (UX) advice blog
Written by Professional Academy Tutor and Marketing Expert Peter Sumpton
Simplicity is defined as the quality or condition of being plain or uncomplicated in form or design and being easy to understand and do. In relation to user experience (UX), simplicity doesn’t always mean better, this is dependent on a number of factors including market sector, target markets, stakeholder involvement, the products or services on offer and critically the platform used to deliver what is being provided. Having said this, the key factors within this definition of simplicity are making something easy to understand and uncomplicated, both of which can be subjective to an individual’s interpretation.
So how do we know when to ‘keep it simple’ or make it complex?.... I’ll try and keep this simple.
The Hard Bit
So you are getting married and depending on your genetic make-up you will probably require one of two things – a suit or a dress (pick which ever you like, I’m not here to judge).
Which-ever takes your fancy, the process of searching, finding, trying-on (insert shedding a few tears here) and eventually buying is a complex one leading to a UX that is also complex, and rightly so. Size, shape, colour, price, matching accessories, themes, what you are told you can and can’t have (for at least one of the wedding party) are all individual components that go some way to making the choice a hard one. But why do we expect this to be difficult and why is it that our emotional ties to purchasing what is basically an item of clothing want this process to be complex? Well for this example, it all adds to the value of the event and this value leads to heightened emotional ties that make us want it to be complex (this is the difference between usability and user experience – the emotions created by a process, product, service or event).
This complexity doesn’t stop here as alterations, timings, deliveries need to be arranged, but yet again all of this adds to the emotional ties created and the UX required. Of course you can go online and purchase these things without actually leaving your house, but then you are catering for a completely different audience, a market that wants if not demands a simple UX and this differential shows why it is so important to know your market, their wants, needs and desires.
The Easy Bit
It is far to easy to get confused by unnecessary features that feel like fundamental requirements, after all it is only human nature to feel like value for money means more, more ‘stuff’, more ‘things’, more features as seen in the above example. Sometimes it is need but in other circumstances less is more. The best way to explain this is to look at simplicity itself – Google (the search engine).
Google is brilliant, Google is simple and Google’s UX is second to none when searching online, so much so that for most of us we consider this our ‘homepage’, the site that pops up as soon as we hit our favourite web browser. But consider this, if Google had ‘more’ would it be the dominant search engine of our time? If you had use a tick box system and enter further details before searching such as upload speeds, locations, page numbers, contact details, shoe size, your cats name (you get the idea), would it make your user experience better? I think not. Google has stuck to what it fundamentally does best, bringing you the most relevant websites for a particular search term, no more, no less. Yes, the back end of all of this, the algorithms, the spiders, the coding is all very complex, but it is this complexity that allows a search to generate a very simple UX.
Google has boldly stated that they don’t need features, we actually want simplicity and in simplicity we discover what is actually important and with importance comes a UX that can benefit us all.
Whether something is kept simple or is quite complex, a user’s experience will basically come down to individual interpretation of a set of events mixed with emotions / feelings before, during and after. Sometimes this is required to be complex (seen to be adding value), but other times simplicity can be the better option. It is down to you to decide which UX is required and this will only come with understanding your target markets and always ask…….why?.... Simples!...... or maybe not.
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