How to simplify your design

20+ easy to follow illustrated examples

What is “simplicity”?

Removing difficulties on the way of users to their goals — will help you move towards simplicity. In The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design — guidelines for needing less and actually getting more.

The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda:

Maeda — a professor in MIT’s Media Lab and a world-renowned graphic designer — explores the question of how we can redefine the notion of “improved” so that it doesn’t always mean something more. And a book is a great read so I really recommend you to check it out.

What about complexity?

So how can we apply it to product design?

1. Build products with focused value

2. Remove everything unnecessary

“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.” — Jonathan Ive

3. Translate data into a meaningful format

4. Support quick decision making

5. Too many choices will scare off customers

The Jam Experiment is one of the most famous experiments in consumer psychology; offering consumers less choice can be good for sales. Critically, the study reveals when precisely offering less choice may enhance your sales.

This experiment seemingly proves that customers presented with fewer choices are 10 times more likely to purchase compared with those who are shown many choices. It has been helping up as a crucial example of choice overload, the idea that presenting customers with too many choices actually inhibits customer purchases.

6. Provide recommendations where multiple choices are presented

7. Draw users attention to the right areas

8. Use color and typography to communicate a hierarchy of content

9. Organizations help the system of many look fewer and more manageable.

Finished? As you will see for yourself counting the unorganized square of dots took considerably more time, and in addition to that put a much more cognitive load on you. Why we had this result if the squares have an identical number of dots?

Mapping dots on to a specific matrix, helped us scan them visually, and group when counting. While in the unorganized square we had to go dot by dot, counting them individually. In addition, many of you probably made a miscalculation or was forced to double check your result with left image.

Organization of elements not only improves recognition but also makes it easier to remember. When operating any machine, it’s very important to remember the position and function of all controls. Let’s do another small exercise. It’s only a minute ago you were counting the dots in 2 images, now please recall the position of every dot in 2 squares. For majority recalling the unorganized structure is close to impossible.

10. Group related content

11. Break up huge tasks in smaller steps, try one column layout

When designing forms, use one column layout instead of multiple columns. One column layout is much easier to fill out. This way user doesn’t need to think what to fill out next, simply moving down the page in straight line.

12. Be transparent in communicating the process and system status

13. Do the calculations for your user

14. Hide complexity with progressive disclosure

15. Rely on commonly accepted patterns and interactions

16. Design a streamlined first-time experience

Even the simplest task is challenging if you try to do it the first time. Sometimes additional training is required before we can operate the product. In digital design I suggest to forget a manual approach, user expectation is the product should be simple enough to understand and they expect help on demand, or when something goes wrong. Provide contextual help instead of an upfront overwhelming user with learning material, design for empty states.

17. Keep in mind ergonomics and circumstances under which product will be used

18. Support inline edit and autosuggest values

19. Use Smart Defaults to Reduce Cognitive Load

20. Prevent errors

21. Design for accessibility




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Defining and informing the complex field of user experience (UX) through frequent publication of high-quality articles for experts and newcomers alike.