An article on simplicity in design in Fast Company..
To make it to the home page, a new service needs to be so compelling that it
will garner millions of page views per day. Contenders audition on the advanced-search page; if they prove their mettle–as image search did, growing from 700,000 page views daily to 2 million in two weeks–they may earn a permanent link. Few make the cut, and that’s fine. Google’s research shows that users remember just 7 to 10 services on rival sites. So Google offers a miserly six services on its home page. By contrast, MSN promotes more than 50, and Yahoo, over 60. And both sell advertising off their home pages; Google’s is a commercial-free zone.
So why don’t those sites simply hit the delete button and make their home pages more Googlesque? Hewing to the simplicity principle, it turns out, is tougher than connecting with tech support, particularly if you try it retrospectively. “Once you have a home page like our competitors’,” Mayer says, “paring it back to look like Google’s is impossible. You have too many stakeholders who feel they should be promoted on the home page.” (MSN says more than half its customers are happy with its home page–but it’s experimenting with a sleeker version called start.com.”)
My friend Gloria and I argued this all of the time at Lakeview Church. I favored a more Google approach and she favored a more MSN/Yahoo! approach. From this it looks like I was right and apparently petty enough to bring it up.
The article talks a bit about John Maeda
John Maeda runs the Media Lab’s Simplicity Consortium. His goal is to find ways to break free from the intimidating complexity of today’s technology and the frustration of information overload. He is a gentle, soft-spoken man, dressed elegantly in a crisp, white collarless shirt and black pants. And he is an unusual amalgam: having the mathematical wizardry of a computer geek with the soul of an artist. Indeed, in 1990, he left MIT for four years to study art. “My whole life changed,” he says. “I thought, This is a great way to live.” But rather than throwing over his digital life entirely, he conceived a mission. “I came back to MIT to figure out how you could combine simplicity, which is basic human life, with this thing–technology–that’s out of control.”
In his book, he asks the basic question. How simple can we make it and how complex does it have to be which is something I have been mulling over in regards to how we live life.
I am not alone is looking for something simpler. Again from the Fast Company article
Philips deployed researchers in seven countries, asking nearly 2,000 consumers to identify the biggest societal issue that the company should address. The response was loud and urgent. “Almost immediately, we hit on the notion of complexity and its relationship to human beings,” says Andrea Ragnetti, Philips’s chief marketing officer. Consumers told the researchers that they felt overwhelmed by the complexity of technology. Some 30% of home-networking products were returned because people couldn’t get them to work. Nearly 48% of people had put off buying a digital camera because they thought it would be too complicated.
It explains a bit of why I am using AbiWord for writing my book. It just allows me to write. If I really need a complex chart, Open Office is a couple clicks away and yes I know how to use all of its features but at times, I just want to communicate with words.