Clarity Results in Better Web and Software Design
A new trend has been developing lately, and its benefits can be seen in a myriad of new Web-based applications. The trend is simplicity. 37signals preaches it, other Web teams follow it, and large companies are now beginning to aspire to it. But simplicity is not necessarily the complete answer. All software can be simplified, but even the simplest version of many applications can remain fairly complicated. A simple version of a robust management system like PeopleSoft or SAP, for example, would still be remarkably complex. So what is truly most important? What succeeds where simplicity falls short?
More than simplicity, great design is about clarity. If each piece, each view of an application or site is focused, concise, clear, easy to use, and reduced to its core purpose, the product becomes more usable, productive, and effective as a result. Much in the way vigorous writing can help close the communication gap, vigorous design can help to close the gap between users and computers.
Part of designing the obvious entails making each piece of your site or application as clear as it can be. Not every interaction you design will be simple, or even easy, but if each step is presented in a clear and concise fashion, the result will be a product that makes sense, and users will be see it as obvious.