Simplicity

OK, Joel Spolsky is stirring up a link storm again, as only Joel can, and this time I’m going to join in.

I don’t need to write 900+ words over 9 paragraphs to say what Joel said, it all boils down to…

 As simple as can be == As complex as need be

It’s that simple really, everyone wants products that are as simple to use as possible, but they must still have enough features to be able to get the job done, otherwise they’re useless.

 The problem of perceived over-complexity comes from a product being used for many different jobs by many different groups, if the product has a large user base then catering for all users will undoubtedly confuse some users as the path to using the features they need is made more difficult due to interface limitations.

That’s why “simple” products get created, they seek to fill that niche where some users have been using a product that has grown arms and legs in a bid to please all the users most of the time. The simple product aims to please only some of the complex product’s users, but all the time. And this is a valid proposition, but those users of the “simple” product will want ever more competing features as the user base matures and develops, eventually causing a split in the user base with some perceiving the product as too complex. It’s inevitable, just ask Darwin!

It’s a simple and well understood market dynamic, and nothing to get hot under the collar about, go with the flow and enjoy the ride!

No comments.

  1. Greetings, Ian!

    Well, I don’t think this is inevitable.
    The reason it happens is – vendors need to ship new versions in order to make profit. That’s the ‘buy for the lifetime’ strategy.
    However, when the business model is not ‘buy’, but ‘rent’ – the project doesn’t need new features and new releases to be profitable.
    As far as I see it, more and more software vendors chose ‘rent’ model, be it a game or an online tool. It makes more sence than the old ‘buy’ scheme.