Saturday, December 01, 2007

David Pogue on How Simplicity Sells

Featuritis can occur when product designers add so many features that the product becomes overly complex and difficult to use. In this awesome video by the talented David Pogue, (see opening parody about tech support) he explains how simplicity sells. He describes Microsoft Word, which has many many features that no one ever uses compared to Palm, whose CEO requires any task that takes more than 3 taps to be redesigned.

Pogue rationalizes Microsoft's approach by what he calls the Sports Utility Principle, which suggests people like to be surrounded by unnecessary power. Consumers don't need a lot of extra features, but they like having them in case they might need them someday. However, tech products that have been designed with the "cult of simplicity" approach like Apple have thrived lately and won over many formerly frustrated tech consumers.

I personally think this same approach should be used in naming tech products. Consumers must be scratching their heads over confusing tech terminology like SSRD, DLP, LCOS, and 1080i vs 1080p, that tell consumers very little about what differentiates it. Simplicity improves the user experience by making the core functions intuitive or obvious to use. Pogue argues that simplicity is the best strategy for maximizing customer value and is what customers want.

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