Drone doing the peace sign - simple design

If only designing simply were easy

Common sense would lead you to believe that making something simple is easy. There’s not much there so there shouldn’t be much to it, right? Incorrect, making something simple is extremely difficult because you must find the balance between having exactly what’s needed while walking the tight rope to be sure you don’t add in too much.

Have you ever used something that has just one too many buttons? It’s almost perfect, but there’s an extra button that gets in the way or distracts you from the main buttons 98% of the time. It’s kind of a useful button, but more often than not it just lingers there like the guy at a networking event that won’t go away. Deep down you just know if that button was gone the device you are using would be perfect.

On the other hand, how many devices have you used where there are not enough buttons or controls. Like the original remote for the apple tv. You’re required to tap through 1 million times to get through a menu or have to press the same button 3 times to switch settings. In these instances, (not on the apple remote) arrow buttons could be elegantly added, or possibly just have 3 simple buttons that light up depending on what setting you’re on. But noooo, the designer had to make it simple and in an overarching effort to do so went too far and ruined the experience.

Now, just like baby bears porridge, when you find or make a product that rests perfectly in the sweet spot of simplicity it’s like having a repeated orgasm every time you use the item. It has just the right amount of buttons and features. What is more important is that it clearly eludes how to intuitively use it. The colors are not overdone and the overall visual design makes you want to stare at it for hours because it seems to blend into whatever environment it’s placed in, yet, it also stands out and draws your eye to it.

Finding that perfect balance takes a tremendous amount so testing, feedback, and iteration. If designing simply was easy everything we’d use would be perfect. Luckily for our profession it’s not.