How to simplify your design - Deepstash
How to simplify your design

How to simplify your design

uxplanet.org

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What is “simplicity”?

What is “simplicity”?

We can define simple - as something that is easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty. Simplicity is subjective, things that appear simple for one person will not be perceived identically by another

Generally, we form our personal opinion regarding any process being simple or complex, in three quick stages:

  • How easy you understand what you need to do.
  • The time/effort needed to reach your final goal.
  • If it is enjoyable or not.

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Build products with focused value

There is so much software that tries to do so much for so many audiences, everyone tries to be a Swiss Army Knife of the industry. 

If you want your product to be simple you need to define a core value and identify who is this product really for. Not every product should have Facebook built-in.

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Remove everything unnecessary

The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. When in doubt, just remove. 

Secondary information, not frequently used controls, and distracting styles. It’s as easy as that. Once you start to apply this principle you will immediately see the results. But be careful of what you remove.

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Translate data into a meaningful format

The majority of products that we design daily are focused on a lot of data that the user needs to make sense of in order to efficiently carry on their daily task.

 When you know users interested in trends and changes, help them with visual representation rather than a bunch of numbers. You always can show additional information on demand. Try to extract the meaningful from the data you have and put it in front of the user.

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Support quick decision making

Hick’s Law predicts that the time and the effort it takes to make a decision increases with the number of options

So if you want your user experience to feel simple you need to support quick decision-making as much as possible. Eliminate the need to choose when is not required, guide and handhold user.

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Too many choices will scare off customers

Current psychological theory and research affirm the positive affective and motivational consequences of having a personal choice. These findings have led to the popular notion that the more choice, the better — that the human ability to manage, and the human desire for, a choice is unlimited. But in reality, research proves the opposite.

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Provide recommendations where multiple choices are presented

When choices cannot be avoided, try to limit them. Provide a recommendation yourself or share statistics of what is most preferred by other customers. 

Clearly communicate to the user what the key difference between proposed options. This approach is often used on pricing plans pages.

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Draw users attention to the right areas

When you understand the journey of your user to reach their goals, at every stage of that journey are things that are more relevant and will help you to progress to the final goal. Find those key areas and draw user attention to them.

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Use color and typography to communicate a hierarchy of content

How many times have you heard — “Users don’t read”. And it’s kind of true, we are really selective to what we actually remember or deep dive to. 

There are so many characteristics that can influence what type communicates: typeface & font, size, kerning, leading, capitalization, and color. Use that to communicate the hierarchy of content. With the right use of color and typography, you will be able to reflect product branding and make it instantly recognizable, much more attractive, and memorable.

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Organizations help the system of many look fewer and more manageable.

The organization of elements not only improves recognition but also makes it easier to remember.

When operating any machine, it’s very important to remember the position and function of all controls.

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Group related content

Often an easy way to simplify a complex page is to start grouping components. At that point, users are dealing with few groups rather than with multitudes of unrelated components. 

Adding borders (creating common regions) around an element or group of elements is an easy way to create separation from surrounding elements. 

There are multiple principles of grouping in Gestalt psychology that help items feel related: Proximity, Similarity, Continuity, Closure, and Connectedness.

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Break up huge tasks in smaller steps, try a one-column layout

Different kinds of forms are present almost in any product. Sometimes even after removing the unnecessary, those can get huge. Such forms can be very demotivation for the user to finish. So what we can do is break up that huge task into a series of smaller ones. All of a sudden everything seems much easier. Finishing a small subtask gives the user a portion of endorphins and satisfaction to carry on.

When designing forms, use a one-column layout instead of multiple columns. A one-column layout is much easier to fill out.

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Be transparent in communicating the process and system status

Uncertainty makes us anxious, it should be avoided as much as possible. That’s why at any time unless it’s obvious, the user should be able to see where he is currently in the process, where he coming from and what’s coming next. 

Keeping a summary of the previously provided information is also a good idea, it lowers loads on user memory and removes the need to go back to double-check previous steps.

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Do the calculations for your user

The human brain is bad at raw arithmetic involving numbers. Evolutionary pressures have favored brains optimized for object recognition compared to arithmetical operations. 

Try to leverage the system to do all calculations instead of the user.

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Hide complexity with progressive disclosure

Progressive disclosure is a design pattern used in UX design to make user interfaces easier for users to interpret. It involves sequencing information and actions across several screens so as not to overwhelm the user or hiding irrelevant information until it becomes relevant.

Progressive disclosure follows the typical notion of moving from “abstract to specific,” including the sequencing of user behaviors or interactions.

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Rely on commonly accepted patterns and interactions

Users spend most of their time on other products. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know, and they come on with specific expectations of how your product should look and behave. 

This statement holds true for any digital or physical product from social networks to your fridge and reflects consumer mindset. 

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Design a streamlined first-time experience

The primary goal of any design should be connecting users to the value product provides as soon as possible. So anything that stands between a user and him actually operating a system, is a barrier unless it serves a functional need. 

The first-time experience is very important for any process, we humans are very quick to form our opinion about the product and walk away immediately if we are not satisfied. Provide contextual help instead of an upfront overwhelming user with learning material, design for empty states

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Keep in mind ergonomics and circumstances under which product will be used

Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products, and systems so that they fit the people who operate them. Most people think it is something to do with seating or with the design of car controls and instruments — and it is… but it is so much more. Ergonomics applies to the design of anything that involves people, including digital products.

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Support inline edit and autosuggest values

Remove all unnecessary interactions, views, steps in every process. There is an optimal speed at which the user should operate the system, it is called a “state of the flow”. Don’t break that flow with popups. 

For all actions/values that can be changed later, support inline edit as much as possible. Autosuggest values when a great number of values is available.

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Use Smart Defaults to Reduce Cognitive Load

Smart defaults are selections put in place that provide answers to questions for you. This supports users to complete forms faster. 

Defining relevant defaults, designers need to understand users and the context in which they will use a product. This is only possible with deep research and testing, to learn from their users and adjust defaults based on their users’ historical data and usage patterns.

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Prevent errors

Error messages bring a lot of stress and bring the users a feeling that they messed up or are not up to the task. Ensure automatic check for entered data and provide alerts or reminders for inappropriate data entries to reduce errors. 

Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action. 

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Design for accessibility

As a designer, your goals are to champion accessibility, make sure your product is accessible by a broader audience without exclusions. There are over 1 billion people worldwide who have a disability. 

Don’t use color as the only visual means of conveying information. Ensure sufficient contrast between text and its background, support keyboard navigation etc.

Accessibility is not confined to a group of users with some different abilities, when you design for accessibility you improve the experience for everyone using the product.

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CURATED BY

travissi

Engineer in electronics

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