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SIMPLICITY – A fundamental principle of any product development

“Think like a user.” My boss handed me a piece of advice when I first joined the company. 

We were working on a landing page of a website. (Landing page is the very first page displayed when we enter a website). He asked me, “Do you think your grandmother can easily navigate through this page and take the expected action?”

It should come as no surprise that, we weren’t building the page for my grandmother. Although we were aware of our so-called targeted market, why was I asked this question?

My boss was trying to drive home the point that ‘simplicity is the key.’ When he asked me “whether your grandma can use it?”, he meant, “are you making the page easy and simple?” (I have seen my 2-year-old son effortlessly navigating YouTube to watch his favorite show – the Jungle Book on an iPad. You know why we are talking about grannies, right?) 

I have listed the following points that have helped me inculcate simplicity in my work. But this list isn’t absolute as I too am a learner. So I would like to hear more from your end.

  • Finding pain points: You might have observed certain difficulties to manage a situation, process, product etc. What are those?  List them out. Now you need to review, talk to the users, find them,  and prioritize. Have a small workshop gathering the user group to brainstorm.  
  • Identify essential tasks: For instance, I need my user to click on the Call to Action Button (CTA) – Download. Check if the button is placed in the right place, is it readable, is the size of the button sufficient? etc. 
  • Minimize: As much as possible minimize the steps a user has to take. For instance, you could provide the download button upfront on the web-page instead of hiding them deep inside. Enable intuitive design principles to avoid users take additional steps to complete the journey. 
  • Continuous Improvement: You may not get it right at the first time no matter how much you organize the above well in advance. That is fine. Continuous improvement should be part of the process. After all, change is constant. 🙂 

Above are the observations I have gathered over the years developing several tech projects / products by taking on a minimalistic approach. In this blog, I have considered website development as a theme for applying the simplicity approach. But I believe, that this approach can be incorporated into a wide variety of product developments. 

Look at the below picture of two ‘Smart T.V.’ remotes. Which one do you prefer? 

This blog has been written in collaboration with Navaneeth Shetty.

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