Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Why Simplicity Is Essential to Web Design

Why we buy complexity rather than simplicity ...

"Simplicity is highly overrated, according to Donald Norman, a design thinker I very much admire.

"I'm a champion of elegance, simplicity, and ease of use," Norman writes. "But, as a business person, I also know that companies have to make money, which means they have to deliver the products that their customers want, not the products they believe they should want. And the truth is, simplicity does not sell."

So why do we buy complexity even when the simple option would be better? Three reasons.

Firstly, because we do judge a book by its cover; we do think beauty is skin deep. If something looks complicated, then we immediately assume that it must be powerful; must have greater value.

Secondly, we love to show off. Complexity is like the peacock's feathers. It is brash and impossible to miss. Complexity lets other people know how clever we are and how rich, because we can afford such complexity.

Thirdly, buying complexity is like buying insurance. We might not need all these fancy features right now, but there might be some time in the future when we will. Buying complexity insures us against future need.

"When users choose a feature-laden product, they may not be exhibiting a desire for complexity," Joshua Porter writes in his very interesting article, Simplicity: The Ultimate Sophistication. "Instead, users are anxious about predicting their future needs."    (Continued via Marketing Profs Daily Fix)    [Usability Resources]

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