A few days ago we attended the book launch party for Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn at the New York Times Building. The authors have been championing simplicity for businesses and organizations around the world for decades. The book discusses three principles of simplicity: Empathize, Distill, and Clarify, and a host of examples of companies streamlining their processes. Many examples are also brought up where simplicity is badly needed (medical field, user agreements, tax code, etc.). Our average everyday experiences are inundated with overly complex things and confusion. We’ve been conditioned to expect complexity and many people are too afraid to ask questions when presented with muddled language or technical jargon. The consequences of this are far reaching and affect every facet of life. The book aims to inspire the reader to stand up for simplicity.
From our perspective the book is an affirmation to an honest design process. For us the simplification principles are part of the intuitive process of designing. We go through a process of simplifying client’s information each time we design an interface. At the level of design we bring the three principles of Empathize, Distill and Clarify into one: Organizing Information (User Experience). Critical to our process when designing an interface is putting ourselves in the shoes of the user.
As a side note, one of the biggest complements anyone can pay a designer is by saying a pieces of design is simple, clean and easy to use. Even more so when this comes from someone who is not a designer. They usually don’t even realize they are paying us a compliment. It’s usually a gut reaction they are having to whatever we are showing them and it tells us we did well.