Have you ever given up because a website was just too complicated (or at least become very angry!)? Missed a deadline because the software hid the functions you needed so deeply you required breathing apparatus?! Or simply been presented with an interface that belongs in an alien spacecraft? Simple things don’t just please simple minds, they please us all!
From testing software to leaving instructions for feeding the cat, with these three little words you don’t need to worry, ‘cause every little thing gonna be alright! Simplicity is key to designing, building and delivering software. Here are my tips for keeping it simple, whatever you are doing:
1. “Keep it simple, stupid.”
Remember to keep it simple and you may just find a way forward. Just reminding yourself to do so can help you to put things into perspective and find a solution.
2. Break it down
Boil your problem down to its simplest form, go back to the basics, look at the fundamental elements and work your way back up. You may find you’re smarter than you thought!
3. Be like Spock
By all means, add some spice, but always remember the most fundamental objectives and the most logical way to achieve them.
4. Draw a picture
We are visual animals and sometimes you just need to get it out of your head and down on paper before you understand what you were thinking. Try it!
5. Get all the angles
Talk to someone. Talk to lots of people. Show everyone if you can. Sometimes the simplest way to understand whether something is ‘right’ is to demonstrate it to someone else.
6. One step at a time
You can’t do everything at once. Once you’ve broken everything down, tackle each issue head-on and complete it before you move on.
7. Use it!
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes (this could be the user, client, developer, tester, manager etc.) and see if it does what they need it to do.
8. Plan ahead
Having a reference point and a plan can help you manage time and effort, track ideas and progress and just generally act as a big comfy pillow you can fall back on.
9. Clear (See Part 2 – coming soon!)
Make it clear. Clarity and simplicity go hand-in-hand and make all our lives easier! Be direct, always ask if it’s open to misinterpretation and avoid anything unnecessary.
10. Intuitive (The helter-skelter principle – See part 3 – coming soon!)
You shouldn’t need to think about it, you should just be able to click and go on a predictable, comfortable journey through the software. Make it like a helter-skelter…weeeeeeeeeee!