Although the concept of invisible or boring design is not new – still The tenth principle of Dieter Rams is: good design as little design as possible – it seems that designing for simplicity is still difficult. As designers and creatives, you will easily get caught up in the magic of making and detailing details.
Doing something simply is difficult and requires discipline. Our goal as a designer is to foster a sense of satisfaction or enthusiasm by meeting a need or solving a problem. No work should be done to hold people’s attention. Instead, success should look like reducing anxiety or giving people ways to do things they didn’t know were possible. Or, allowing people to do something faster, to feel more carefree, or to be more independent.
Giving people less work and care, and more joy and comfort is what makes your product memorable. And creating an unforgettable experience is what feeds us as designers. As such, we must view our role as that allows people to achieve those outcomes of greater fulfillment and satisfaction.
Here are seven principles I work on to make the design feel simple and help people achieve their goals.
1. Get to know your customer’s mindset and motivation
If we plan to enable an outcome – more joy and less worry – then we must have a deep and rich understanding of what suits people and what doesn’t. The trick is that the customer won’t tell you, “x has to be easier” or “I wish there was a better way for y.”
It is crucial to develop empathy for our customers and get to know their way of thinking and motivation. Take transportation for example.
Why do different people prefer to drive their own car for some jobs and use a transportation service or public transportation for others? What if they have small children, if it’s late at night, or if they need to make a few stops? Talking to various people about such issues will put you in their place. People consider their goals and circumstances before using a product, and we need to know who they are in order to know how to make something easier for them.
2. Create focus by clarifying your purpose
Inspired by deep empathy for our customers, in bold product definitions and roadmaps, we often plan multiple functions to solve problems or enjoy new new ideas. How can we do something simple when there are so many problems to solve? You don’t have to solve every problem for everyone.
Find an area in which you can specialize and have a significant impact. The Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule, is applied in design and has been a guide to some of the most difficult decisions I have encountered. Basically, 80% of the time your customers do only 20% of what you offer.
That’s why you’re designing an 80% scenario, which is just a few uses. Let them sing. Clear the friction path almost zero. Understand that correctly.
Of course, you should always address 20% cases or marginal cases with best practices to maintain the trust of your customers. But don’t let there be a small probability of a “what-if?” compromise your chance to offer the best possible experience most of the time.
3. Reduce noise by system design
A strong system is the foundation of a consistent, simple design. Consistency is a hallmark of good design because it reduces complexity and builds trust. The design system uses repeatable and familiar patterns for your audience, which removes speculation and allows the purpose of your product to shine.
You don’t need to invent a new way to interact to be innovative and memorable. Invest in defining clear guidelines, setting up safety fences and adhering to them so that your customer feels confident and focuses more on their goals than trying to understand the unknown.
If you are creating a new way of interacting (hell, we do that sometimes!), Then the need for the system is even stronger so that your customer can gain confidence and learn every time he uses your product.
4. Get involved in the context of your customer
Even with clear priorities and a strong system, it is difficult to make a robust product feel simple. Enter context – the designer’s best friend. Yours The goal of a designer is to open the way for your user to realize their intention as easily as possible.
You will never be able to read their thoughts, but you can adapt to their needs based on everything you know about them to satisfy their experience.
Are they a repeat user or is this their first time? Where are they on their larger journey? Did they finish what they were doing the last time they came? Will it happen again? What time of day is it? Are you late for something? With other people? How’s the weather?
Depending on your product, these types of questions can be relevant and can provide you with information on how to structure your customer’s journey to present a range of relevant options tailored to their current mindset and moment.
I like to offer three things they would probably like to do, not 20. If these are essential but not everyday functions (like the permission setting), consider putting them under me.
Remember that you would rather have your product do a handful of things really Well, so much work for many.
5. Put time aside
You are focused on the most critical use cases. You have a strong system. Pay attention to the context and patterns of use of your customers. As the need for more feedback and features arises, make sure you don’t forget the fourth dimension in the experience or product design – time.
Using time is like an atomic level of context-sensitive design. You can respond to so many needs on a customer’s journey with timely information, options, or feedback that responds to their least interactions.
Consider autocomplete suggestions that appear and disappear as you move each letter. Or hint at the text in the form field. Options that are revealed under your finger when you drag an email to your inbox or put your finger on a similar button.
These are all examples of temporary, context-sensitive features that respond to the slightest user interaction to make things feel easy and natural. By stacking options and suggestions on time, the design feels simple and intuitive.
6. Take advantage of the human senses and the current environment
Because so many products are digital, it’s easy to design them just for a four-sided visual interface. Remember that your customer is using that screen in a big and messy world. They are with people and usually do other things while using your product.
If your product is screen-based, find opportunities to enjoy the experience using media such as sound and haptics (phone vibrations) and other interactions such as voice or gestures. By using different media together, you provide some relief from one mode of interaction and reduce screen overload with everything you want to communicate.
But make sure they are additives and don’t let your experience depend to them from some of your customers they may or may not have limited vision or hearing. For this reason, also ensure that you design and follow inclusively a11y best practices.
Imagine yourself as a conductor, and the surfaces of your product as an orchestra. Use them together in harmony and remember that they work together to create an experience greater than any point of contact. How can the haptics in your application generate subtle feedback that supports your system design? How can sound help your customers read the environment or know when the transition is happening?
7. Edit edit edit
Reduce your design to the most important elements and words to create focus and calm for your customer.
Sometimes design doesn’t need words at all. But when that happens, you need to invest in writing UX. Why? People don’t read. At best, they scan.
Every word must be right for the reader so you have to understand the words they use. Do people “run” applications? Probably not. They could say “open” or “run” applications. Do people “enable” things? Chances are they just turn them on.
These differences are important. As designers, we live in a world with our own language that is often quite filled with jargon. So stay in touch with the way everyday people speak and match your language.
Try testing the reading level of the initial sketches using Hemingway or readable apps, then test the suggested options with real users. To help with scanning, messages should also be presented in the appropriate hierarchy.
Start with best design and style practices from existing guides like Google’s material guidelines and Apple’s human interface guidelines, but then document and develop your own. Identify and record which words best match your product and experience to make the language consistent and follow repeatable patterns.
The challenge of unlocking new features for people in a simple and humane way is what inspires me the most in design. It’s hard to do, but our job is to create simple, wonderful products that promise a better outcome than what was before.
At Waymou, we build something that brings people where they want, safe and comfortable, and at the same time needs them less on the trip. That new freedom is for drivers to use as they wish. On the phone I can talk and write messages, put on makeup, stare out the window, eat, even sleep!
That is the result that my team and I strive to provide – more time for ourselves, more freedom to do as you wish, more independence and, I hope, more joy. And for that I use these seven principles.
Published April 8, 2021 – 07:00 UTC