Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Simplify, Simplify, and Simplify.

For real estate, three words matter: location, location, location.
for writing, it’s: edit, edit, edit
for product design: it’s simplify, simplify, simplify.

The only way to produce a simple design is by rigorously iterating and carefully examining every detail of the product design. Just as in writing we try to remove superfluous sentences and words so too in product design we remove any unnecessary features or pixels.

Margarat Gould Steward, Facebook director of product design, explains that a key elements:

  1. “…you need to know about designing at scale is that the little things really matter.” (TED talk — transcript)

She explains how the Facebook like button is seen over 22 billion times per day. The designer of the button estimates he spent over 280 hours perfecting the latest button.

  1. “When you introduce change, you need to do it extraordinarily carefully…. [I] spend almost as much time designing the introduction of change as I do the change itself.”

People are resistant to change. It is really hard to build new habits in people. People are inundated with information and spam. If you want them to learn how to use your latest update, teach them by introducing the new features one at a time.

Apple is great example of simplifying product design. They remove any unnecessary buttons. The iPhone has only 5 buttons. (power, menu, un/lock and up+down volume).

How do you make sure the product design works at scale?

“We try to travel outside of our bubble to see, hear and understand the people we’re designing for. We use our products in non-English languages to make sure that they work just as well. And we try to use one of these phones from time to time to keep in touch with their reality.”

SV is not just designing for SV and SF. It is designing for the entire world. That is challenging. That’s why the product has to be simple.

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