Is your product design truly simple?

Now and then, there’s a lot of products/apps that stands out. The current trend is the simpler the product is, the better the review, feedback and the more shares it gets.

A recent article on techcrunch by Bump’s CEO, David Lieb points out that a lot of people over look “cognitive overhead” when it comes to productization. Cognitive Overhead — “how many logical connections or jumps your brain has to make in order to understand or contextualize the thing you’re looking at.” That causes a simple product to become more complicated to the users.

One of the example he gave was the use of QR codes. QR codes was invested and use nowadays to make it simple for people to get online to a specific website using the phone’s camera. However, is it really easy? Here’s the steps below:

  1. see ad
  2. takes out smartphone
  3. go to app store to download QR code scanner
  4. wait for download (people will drop off here as the waiting time is long)
  5. launch app
  6. scan QR code
  7. click to go to link
  8. go to website

From personal experience, it will be easier to input a shortened URL Here’s the steps:

  1. see ad
  2. takes out smartphone
  3. launch browser
  4. type in short url
  5. go to website

The second process is 3 steps shorter and also minus the drop off from the app download. On the preparation side, marketers would have lesser chance to make mistakes and lesser time making sure the QR code is the right size to scan. A lot of time people spend too much time and effort to build something around technology and lost focus on the product. The thinking of “no interface is the best interface” is the thinking of ditching the technology and just think simple.

In conclusion, we need to keep in mind that products need to be not only generically simple but also cognitively simple. I would recommend Steve Kurg’s “Don’t make me think” for those who are going for true simplicity. In the book it says “the developers needs to think a lot so that we don’t make the consumer think if how to use a website/product and just use it”.

Do let me know what you think.

Fern Yit