As a professional working in the web industry, I’m a big believer in promoting good design, intuitive usability, and clear Information Architecture. My top design principles (more to come on this in a future post) include: Clarity, Consistency, and Intuitiveness. In a great article on SmashingMagazine, the importance of Simplicity (one of the ways to help achieve Clarity and Intuitiveness in design) was discussed and pointed out that:
If the user can’t find what she’s looking for right away, she’s gone. It’s crucial to have simple web designs to allow the user to quickly find the information they need, especially if you are selling a product.
This is a great article and does contain some good examples that can be used as design inspiration. However good design is not enough. You can have the best design in your market and still fail. And vice-versa, you can have the worst design and somehow come out on top.
Google Search is often hailed as the #1 example of how simple design will lead to great success. However this is not really the case. When Google Search first came out, I heard over and over again that “Google [Search] is great because its so much simpler and gives me much more accurate results than other search engines.” People only attributed the simplicity to Google’s success because it hadn’t been done before. What really kept people coming back though was the quality of the search results. Google Search is not the best ONLY because of its simple design, but because of its combination of good design, great technology, and smart business practices.
On the other side of the spectrum you’ve got most of the social networks, such as MySpace/Facebook which have horrible designs and overly cluttered interfaces, yet people can’t get enough of them. Many competitors try to enter this market with either better interfaces or better features, but have yet to make much traction. In this case, its the business-model completely eliminating the need for a quality product. Peer pressure leads to exponential growth and it doesn’t matter how bad the product is.
Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to see higher quality (and better designed) web products out there, but it just isn’t needed everywhere. Some quick tips for product success:
• Start by concentrating on a solid business-model. Come up with something that solves a problem and you’ll have demand for your product. Find a big enough problem to solve and you won’t be able to hold back the swarm.
• Scalable Supply: There’s nothing worse than the store running out of your kid’s new favorite toy after all his friends got one. Implement Technology that will scale with your product’s demand. And there’s no point in spending excessive amounts on supply until the demand is (almost) there.
• Customer Focus: Figure out how to tweak your product’s design to best serve your customers. Without customer satisfaction, even the best business plans will fail. And scale this appropriately as well. Figure out what your users want and need, and then weigh those against the business impact of not providing those wants and needs.
• Refine. Having a successful product means you’ve got to keep up with market changes. Your customers tastes will change, your business will grow, and technology will innovate. In the Social Networking world, that same exponential growth that made you successful can quickly lead to a wave of customers moving on to the next big thing, leaving you in the dust. Revisit the first three tips often to make sure you’re keeping up with the times.
Business, Technology, and Design (which in this case represents the Customer component of the Triple Confluence) must be balanced in order to achieve success. This is just another example of how the Triple Confluence is an additive principle (and not a constraining principle like the Triple Constraint). Good design can help, but without good business and technology your great design will end up on the cutting room floor.Via: Smashing Magazine: How Simple Web Design Helps Your Business