User Friendly Simplicity

Have you ever noticed that the best things in life are usually the most simple?

While watching the chargers game a few weeks back (the last game of the regular season that led us to the play offs, woo-hoo!) we started talking about the simple things in life that.. simply.. can’t be beat. Apple products  are often centered around “touch” — very simple, the In-N-Out Burger Menu (the simple and few choices are a beautiful thing!), Google products are centered around the “find” theme, and again, very simple – very successful. See these illustrations taken from Eric Burke’s blog post about simplicity.


I think that in today’s world customers are over the over-complicated. They want something simple that they can figure out how to use.  A product has to have a certain amount of worth in order for us to find time in our busy lives to sit down and take the time to learn a new tool – the easier it is to use, the more committed a consumer will become to incorportaing the products use into their daily lives. We want simple, easy to understand and efficient.  While some may associate simplicity with easy on the creator side — this is simply wrong.  Simplicity often requires much more work on the production side. A lot of thought and planning must go into what will be MOST efficient for the average user and then easiest to translate into product form. The genius of simplistic products is what amazes me. For every brand, application, software product, and customer facing product — this truth can be applied. Though it may be a specific industry related tool – there is always a level of simplistic, user-friendliness that can be applied, and I would encourage creators to focus on the importantance of the aspect of simplicity for customers today.

Google is my favorite example – because they really keep it simple, and understand the value of “less is more”.  Google’s homepage stays pure and simple, and other tech companies are starting to get it as well. It’s innovations biggest paradox: We demand more stuff in our lives, with more features, function adn power, and we also demand it remain as easy as 1,2,3 to use! As I said before – the technology that is the simpliest to use is often the most difficult to create.  Fast Company says, “the technology that powers Google’s search engine is, of course, anything but simple. In a fraction of a second, the software solves an equation of more than 500 million variables to rank 8 billion Web pages by importance. But the actual experience of those fancy algorithms is something that would satisfy a Shaker: a clean, white home page, typically featuring no more than 30 lean words; a cheery, six-character, primary-colored logo; and a capacious search box. It couldn’t be friendlier or easier to use.” As a creator, remember that no matter how much complexity you are able to fit into your product, at the end of the day, the consumer doesn’t care — they just want it to be easy and they want it to work!!

How can you cut out complexity from your product on the customer facing side? How can you make your brand, product, creation less complicated, and more simple? How can your creation be more like the In-N-Out Burger menu? hmmm



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7 responses to “User Friendly Simplicity

  1. You highlight two great examples of simplicity with Google and Apple. In the first case you have an integrated set of online applications, and with the second an integrated product family, both focused on ease of use and powerful results.

    I always tell my clients to reach out to their customer base, both for feedback on existing products, and during the design phase on new products. They may not understand much about the complexity of what goes on behind the scenes, but they can tell what is intuitive for them from a user perspective.

    Along with the impression of quality and value, every business should address the issue of whether their brand also says simple.

  2. I completely agree. I just hate yahoo’s cluttered search page.
    It is especially true if you want customers to adopt a new product it needs to be simple. People are reluctant to change they don’t have patience.

    An iphone is super intuitive nobody ever needs to read the explanations.

    When I sign up to a new website I want the registration process to be as easy as possible.
    I want to be able to give extra information or adopt extra services only when I see the need for it. Friendfeed is a good example.

    I had a similar conversation with a lawyer friend who told me the reason his law firm was successful is because they keep the mail sent to their client simple.

    (I landed on your page from your brother’s comment on Scoble’s blog)
    I think it is great that you and your brother are into social media dev.

    Great piece
    Keep up the good work!

    • taylorgraves

      Thanks Jadito! That’s a great example — The lay firm’s simple mailing peices. Complicated mailers are the worst, so that makes a lot of sense. Why don’t more companies realize this and simplify?

      Glad you found me through Ryan’s site. He’s a great motivator, encouraged, and advocate for the social media development world! 🙂 Glad you liked the post. Your comments are much appreciated!

  3. The problem Google has inadvertently created is that people know think Google is literally omniscient, that it literally in some God-like way knows exactly what web pages to send you to for the search you are doing. They don’t realize that it only makes good guesses (and contrary to popular belief it does not have a perfect algorithm). Before Google came along people would use Yahoo, Alta Vista, HotBot, Excite, etc. to find a web page and then they would explore that web page. Now people think Google is the only search engine out there, that it can do no wrong, and that if it sends you to a website and you don’t find what you need on the first page it sends you to then that website must not have the information you need and they leave the website without exploring it.

    • taylorgraves

      Very very valid point — and I think that is a WHOLE different Google issue topic that could definitely be ammo for another post…. but, through Google’s eyes (not the users) they’ve done the ultimate job of being user-friendly to the point where they have convinced some users that they are the-only-way. That’s real success for Google isn’t it? Thanks for the thoughts Christian!

  4. Yeah, I don’t think it’s Google’s fault that people rely too much on them.

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