“Make it simple, but significant.”—Don Draper, “Mad Men”
A two-legged chair might look great, but it’s a pretty lousy chair. Marrying great form with great function is the essence of good design vs. bad design. Whereas art or music can be subjective, design is only as good as it is usable.
If we use the perspective of technology, we could ask: If your software does amazing things but is too difficult to use, was it worth making? Simplicity is a major factor in good design, and the question of simplicity is an ever-more critical element as Millennials—or Digital Natives—enter the workforce and bring with them notions of how software should look, feel, and work. Creating great software that adheres to design simplicity principles helps engage this younger workforce, and in turn, how this generation views and interacts with technology is increasingly defined by the simplicity and elegance of design.
In today’s digital age, the notion of “simple” is increasingly hard to attain. Yet, many technology vendors speak of their commitment to their users and to their overall experience while they continue to layer new complexities (bolt-on acquisitions with divergent experiences, an endless number of mobile apps to download, more and more functionality without redesign) into their products. The fact is, as software becomes more complex, it erodes its ability to be effective. Great software must evolve continuously, and be redesigned constantly to meet users’ changing demands and expectations.