I’ve been checking back through all the great innovation blogs I like to follow, and I found a nice post on InnovationManagement.se by Chuck Frey titled “The Surprising Connection Between Simplification and Innovation.” It seems rather serendipitous to stumble across this article reviewing Matthew E. May’s book The Laws of Subtraction because just last night a colleague approached me about a new interface in a product update he had just received. He told me how very much he liked the new interface.
What my friend didn’t know was the debate that had gone on behind the scenes during the design of this interface. The designer had put together a very visually compelling, but very different design for the new interface. The design included many components and provided for a rich interaction model. My concern was that users don’t always value richness in interaction; they do like directness and ease of function. So, I asked for an alternative design that drew upon familiar data visualization paradigms to provide a simplified interaction model and that the two designs be tested with actual users.
In the end, the simpler design was selected based on user preference. This was no surprise. The value of simplicity in design has long been recognized. The very essence of this notion is captured in the discipline of value engineering through value equations and codified in various systematic innovation methods such as TRIZ.
Every journey of innovation should include several stops along the way to ask if the current solution can be simplified. This question alone has the power to drive high value innovations.