Features, simplicity and value

Donald Norman—a powerhouse in software design, usability, and cognitive science—once said that simplicity is overrated. When faced with a decision between two products, your customers will always go for the one that has more features, even if they appear more complex. But, Gartner analyst, Brian Prentice, opined that simplicity is not overrated, it’s misunderstood.

A common assumption is the more features a product has, the more value it can deliver. Typically, a new product release with, say, 15 highly requested features will have a bigger perceived impact on a company’s bottom line, than heavy promotion of the previous version.

But what if those new features were more simple to use? What if they made your product easier? More powerful? Or even more unified with the rest of your customers’ other products?

The fact is simplicity plays an important role in providing value. Apple is a fantastic example of putting simplicity front and center. Their products are not simple…rather, they are simple to use. They are elegant, and it is this simplicity that in large part drives their  value. Simplicity is a core feature Apple provides across their entire product line.

Herein lies the crucial point: Customers want products that address their business needs, delivered in a simple, elegant way. Simplicity is another feature that your solutions should offer to customers. Even when requirements are complex, products that are simple and elegant to use grasp the attention and loyalty of your customers.

If you choose to build your applications on a platform, it is very important to understand the importance of simplicity; the importance of providing value not only through cool features, but also through delivery in a simple, elegant way.

Jorge Sanchez, Director, Product