Simplicity is about Valuing People

When we talk about simplicity we always put it in context in the usual expected ways. The usual favorite is associating Simplicity with making products easier to use. Simplicity as a design language is also a good one. Simplicity is also used synonymously with “less is more”. All simplicity discussions almost always also end with designers lamenting how simplicity is hard or simplicity requires a complex processes to get there.
Here is another way to look as Simplicity.
What if we consider Simplicity as an act or an approach to design that is all about valuing people? By doing so, it suddenly re-frames what Simplicity is all about. If we start creating products or services that has an agenda that respects people, it means we need to create products or services that people “get it” right away and do not have to spend all day figuring out how it all works. That’s right, look to reduce annoyances or pain points that steal time from people who could spend this lost time on more important things like spending time with their loved ones.
Suddenly it makes even more sense for simplicity to be part of your design process.
In the same spirit of this discussion, this post, and many more in the future, will be made intentionally short and sharp. This is because I respect your time, and that the time you spent visiting Design Sojourn and reading my posts could be used in many other ways. I am grateful that you have found it worthwhile to spend your time with me. Thank you.

7 Comments
  • Cameron Nielsen

    September 10, 2010 at 4:03 am Reply

    Completely agree! I find it frustrating though when people substitute the colloquial phrase ‘dumb it down’ when they mean to simplify, clean up, organize, etc. a design.
    It’s not about people’s supposedly sub-par intelligence, it’s about offering them something concise and meaningful that gives them value and doesn’t waste their precious time.

  • Rene Lee

    September 10, 2010 at 11:07 am Reply

    “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein
    Maybe designers go too far with simplicity and start making things simple for its own sake. I would hope that your people centric approach to simplicity should prevent designers from that.

  • Jorge Barba

    September 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm Reply

    Hello Brian,
    I couldn’t agree more! I’ve been thinking about the same thing for awhile: Don’t waste people’s time, help them do more. Which seems to me is what you’re saying too!
    This article speaks volumes about this concept: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/08/technology/08packaging.html?_r=1
    Cheers!

  • Catalina

    September 12, 2010 at 5:20 pm Reply

    Hey Brian,
    I really enjoyed reading this post; often too much information is overwhelming and confusing. Balance and clarity is needed; if you can’t do that, then you have too many goals in your mind and that can hurt you back. I appreciate your point of view.
    Catalina

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  • Design Translator

    September 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm Reply

    Hi everyone, thanks for your feedback and taking the time to stop by. Please keep the comments coming!

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    December 7, 2010 at 2:43 am Reply

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