Simple is Hard

Inc. featured an excellent write-up on the design secrets of Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs entitled ‘Simple is Hard‘, and we couldn’t agree more. In it, Jim Schleckser argues that, “When it comes to designing our business processes and systems… When we don’t do the necessary work up front to create a design that is simple and elegant, we end up building products and services that are complex and cluttered. Put another way: Simple is hard.”

The fact is: What seems like a simple and elegant solution is often damn hard to design.

As a customer, you know exactly what we’re talking about, since it is certain that you have experienced many times, the frustrations that accompany badly-designed user interfaces on websites and apps, or even the way products are packaged for transit. Spend hours, or minutes, or even precious seconds dealing with “bad design”, and it rapidly takes the joy out of the equation, making the entire experience unpleasant.

On the other hand, when we encounter a beautifully-designed product or service, we thoroughly enjoy the process of interacting with it. And, want to share it with others we care about. And, keep coming back to it for more, resulting in the ultimate benefit for those who created it in the first place – customer loyalty.

Yet, when it comes to putting resources where they matter, most organizations do not show an appreciation for “good design”, or seek help where they need it the most – hiring an expert to improve the User Experience of their shiny, new product or service. Sadly, “design” is often an after-thought on the project – a layer that (you think) you can slap-on to make the thing look pretty. That is a far cry from espousing the philosophy of Steve Jobs that, “Design is how it works!”

So, if you are in a position to influence the process even a little, the next time you get the opportunity to work on a project/product/service, take the time to reflect on your own experiences as a customer, and invest the effort (and resources) required to create something that will be a joy to use. It’s not an easy journey, but it’s worth the effort it takes.

Leonardo da Vinci nailed it when he remarked, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.