Complexity versus Simplicity

If only today’s technology were simpler! It’s the universal lament, but it’s wrong. We don’t want simplicity. Simple tools are not up to the task. The world is complex; our tools need to match that complexity – From: Living with Complexity by Donald A. Norman

If a design oversimplifies the interaction, it gets restricted and can lose functionality, or worse, lose the interest of the user. Earlier in the design of the toolbox, working with a company with little previous user research experience, I made the mistake of presenting an iteration of the toolbox, that was too simple, and it was perceived as condescending. 

User research has many facets and is not just a trick, and therefore it is difficult to completely master, and I will not claim I do. But it is also not rocket science, and some common sense, problem solving skills and a lot of empathy go a long way in planning a user research session. So how to find the balance between oversimplifying the ‘manual’, and presenting too much boring information that no one reads?

application2dClick to view the card set

In this latest version of the toolbox, the card set from previous design cycles is still there, but in a more condensed form. A real user study, planned using these cards, went well and produced interesting results for that company, such as new product ideas.

business origami

It will be interesting to see how this company handles the next user study. Are they developing their own style of user research, and therefore not rely on the ‘prescribed’ methods as much? Or will they value the toolbox more after it has proven successful once?

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