Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Simplify what it does to absolute minimum

I like simple things.  When I sign up for a service, I already have a problem that I would like to solve.  What I look for is the quickest path to solving the problem at hand.  From user's perspective it should be dead simple.  Simplicity of user experience means that someone else took the trouble of thinking through the intricacies involved in solving the problem, and laid it all out.  As a user, when I discover a simple product, I am thrilled.

There are different aspects to creating something simple, however.  Creating something simple is anything but simple.  There are three aspects that I can think of:

  • Problem that the product solves
  • Product UI and UX
  • Implementation

If the problem solved by the product is too trivial or too simple, then there may not be customers who are willing to pay to solve the problem.  So problem has to be complex.  In fact many entrepreneurs and VCs recommend going after a big and complex problem.  More complex the problem, the higher huddle will be for other competitors to follow you and better the chance will be for customers to pay for the product.

Product UI/UX and implementation on the other hand should be as simple as they can be.  It is important to note that the product UI/UX (customer facing experience) is different from implementation complexity (internal parts).  To use home builder's analogy, product UI/UX is the paint job and decorations on the wall while implementation is how the house was built, electrical and water pipes are laid out.  Both are important for different reason.  But the end goal is to simplify product UI/UX so that users can easily pick up the product and start using it.  Implementation simplicity is there to support this activity, so new addition to the house can be easily added with minimal cost.

The products that I am thrilled to discover are the bottom two types of products.  It solves complex problem, yet offers simple user experience, and it evolves quickly to become even more useful in a short span of time.

Of course as a user I have no idea whether implementation is simple or complex.  But what I often observe is that a great product evolves fast and the only way they can do that is by keeping their implementation simple enough so that they can execute fast on product UI/UX enhancements and possibly add another problem to make the problem even more complex.

Where does your product rank?  What's your next step?

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