Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Simplicity is Highly Overrated

Don Norman has written a provocative essay on his blog. His reports that research shows that people will purchase a product that has more controls and indicators on it than one with fewer. Humans seem to think that if the product looks complicated it must have more function and be more powerful.

He writes, "...it is the apparent complexity that drives the sale. And yes, it is the same complexity that frustrates those same people later on. But by then, it is too late: they have already purchased the product."

At the end of his essay her comments, "Logic is not the way to answer these issues: human behavior is the key. Avoid the engineer's and economist's fallacy: don't reason your way to a solution -- observe real people. We have to take human behavior the way it is, not the way we would wish it to be. So, of course I am in favor of good design and attractive products. Easy to use products. But when it comes time to purchase, people tend to go for the more powerful products, and they judge the power by the apparent complexity of the controls. If that is what people use as a purchasing choice, we must provide it for them. While making the actual complexity low, the real simplicity high. That's an exciting design challenge: make it look powerful while also making it easy to use. And attractive. And affordable. And functional. And environmentally appropriate. Accessible to all."

My only concern with his essay is that he uses complexity to mean complicated. I will write later on the taxonomy of simplicity and complexity.

1 comment:

  1. Just after writing this, I saw a Tweet from episod (http://twitter.com/episod) - the rules of complexity. It linked to this image. http://24.media.tumblr.com/1231008_500.jpg