Adam Caudill

Security Leader, Researcher, Developer, Writer, & Photographer

Extreme Simplicity

_Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to remove.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Such a simple statement; yet one of such power. This statement carries a new impact as the concept of “Extreme Simplicity” gains ground. The idea is that instead of focusing on adding more features (Microsoft), do a few things, and do them very well (Apple).

This is a great concept, focus on the user, focus on what the user spends most of their time doing and keep all the rest out-of-the-way. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m addicted to gold plating. If I think it’s cool, I’ll add it, which is most certainly at conflict with this concept. This is one area were the two goals leave me quite torn, giving the user every feature possible versus a simple – even minimalistic interface.

All things considered though, this is where things are going. Simple, intuitive designs sell; it’s that simple. People expect technology of any form to fit in their lives, as simply as if it wasn’t even there. By building around the core of what the user does and minimizing fluff to enhance the user experience, you’re giving the end users what they want.

As written by Andreas Pfeiffer, here are the 10 fundamental rules of Extreme Simplicity:

  1. More features isn’t better, it’s worse.
  2. You can’t make things easier by adding to them.
  3. Confusion is the ultimate deal-breaker.
  4. Style matters.
  5. Only features that provide a good user experience will be used.
  6. Any feature that requires learning will only be adopted by a small fraction of users.
  7. Unused features are not only useless, they can slow you down and diminish ease of use.
  8. Users do not want to think about technology: what really counts is what it does for them.
  9. Forget about the killer feature. Welcome to the age of the killer user-experience.
  10. Less is difficult, that’s why less is more.

We all know that users don’t want to think; this design philosophy further refines the concept and simplifies it to the point that it can be applied to almost any form of technology. By designing with a goal of maximizing simplicity, you create software that fits in the users’ life, instead of fitting them into your product.

If you want your product to sell, find a way (though difficult it may be) for your product to be both indispensable and unobtrusive.

Adam Caudill