Scott Watermasysk

Still Learning to Code

Laws of Simplicity

I just finished John Maeda’s Laws of Simplicity. It was an excellent read.

Similar to many of the other books I like, it is much more thought provoking that a how to guide. One of benefits to book is it provides you with a vocabulary in which to speak about simplicity via the 10 laws.

Too often software development it is a blanket statement for not including features; which is a shame. Heidi Adkisson brings up an excellent point that people buy features not simplicity. That of course does not mean simplicity is not important.

Users want to feel empowered by software. They want something they can own, they want to love it. Including the features users want and still keeping it simple is harder than it sounds, especially if you are trying to do this for an existing application.

I now try to keep the following questions in mind anytime I begin to write some code or review a new (or existing) feature:

  • Will all users need this feature? If not, can it be hidden by default and easily surfaced when needed?
  • Are there smarter choices you can make for your users?
  • Can you make it easier to use this functionality out of the box?
  • Can you remove the need for a manual?
  • Are there steps you push users through where they almost never make the selection?

Simplicity is a process. It is something which should be discussed during all phases of your development process.