Simple Is Better

simple The BBC is reporting on a survey by Mformation that says 61% of UK and US users find setting up and accessing features on mobile phones to complex and confusing. A plea for simplicity? I’m saying yes. Watching some of those near me (my wife, employees, family, etc ) watch me try out and play with the devices I use and test, I see the first glance big eyes when they see some shiny new gadget quickly diminish. As they walk away, I hear statements like, ““I don’t have time to figure that out” or ““too much for a phone.”

On our recent driving trip to Chicago, when my wife was driving I’d ask her to access something on the iPhone and while she would handle some things with relative ease, she’d also get quickly frustrated if my drivers seat instructions didn’t make immediate sense. When I asked her to access features on the Nokia E71 I was testing, that experience turned into one of those husband and wife moments when you know you stop while your ahead. Parallel to this, watching her work with the new HP Mini 1000 these last few days has yielded a similar response. She sticks the icons on the screen she needs and when she’s looking for something else and I tell her to look in the Start Menu, her eyes roll back in her head. If the icon is on the screen, she’s golden. If she has to go looking for it, or has to set something up, she quickly loses interest. Anecdotal, but telling.

Simple is better.

6 Comments

  1. turn.self.off

    01/19/2009 at 6:41 am

    and some will find those simple devices, limiting.

    i guess thats why one have those never ending arguments about products…

    Reply

  2. GoodThings2Life

    01/19/2009 at 9:29 am

    Unfortunately, this is why software developers insist on hijacking your desktop with their useless crap icons too.

    I also blame it on OEM’s and developers for over-cluttering the desktop and not more precisely organizing their start menu shortcuts.

    Of course, this is why I’m loving the W7 superbar. I pin the programs I use to the superbar, and they stay there… opened or closed… and they’re always in the same place. Thanks to the document jump lists, I’m also able to access all my recent documents too. One icon, one place, and bam– easy access.

    Reply

  3. GoodThings2Life

    01/19/2009 at 9:31 am

    Grr @ hitting submit too soon, lol…

    Anyway, some of the concept shots of Windows Mobile 6.5 and 7.0 look promising too, although I certainly find my Sprint Touch Pro to be incredibly simple to use too.

    Reply

  4. Sumocat

    01/19/2009 at 10:03 am

    Agreed. Although I’m big on peripherals and expanding my gadget arsenal, I maintain a relatively slim core gadget system for mobility and have stripped down icon-interface from my PC.

    Simplicity is one of my key reasons for choosing the iPhone. I was confident I could talk my wife through its operation (still took a couple times to explain we are the blue dot moving on the map), but to my surprise, it’s also the easiest modern phone I’ve ever operated, fixed or mobile.

    Reply

  5. T Lewis

    01/19/2009 at 2:08 pm

    I’m perennially baffled by the cluelessness of MS…with WinMobile they had the future of phones in their grasp.

    They have the funds to hone an interface to perfection. Yet a year and a half after the iPhone struck, here I sit with a yet another supposed “iPhone killer”(the Samsung Omnia). It’s very pretty and stuffed with features the iPhone can’t touch: 5mpxl camera… camcorder… cut-n-paste… multi-tasking…etc

    – but the user experience is often lame, inconsistent and confusing because, for all it’s glitz, under the hood is WinMo6. Which is as fun to use as memorizing the ventilation schematics for a Motel6.

    WinMo7 may turn out cool – but it’s looking like it’ll be 2010 before it’s here. Meanwhile I play with shells: Vito, SPB, Pointui…in a vain odyssey to distance myself from the grey MS quagmire.
    t

    Reply

  6. Ben

    01/21/2009 at 2:56 pm

    how do people like that even function in this world?

    how do they read a book, for example? the whole story isn’t written on the cover for them. they have to open it and flip pages. holy crap. that’s too complicated.

    how do they use a car to go places? they don’t just sit in it and it takes them where you want to go. driving must be too complicated, too.

    or how about eating. plates, forks, tables and such don’t just put food in their mouths for them when they hold them. they have to buy, make, eat, and even chew. that’s really complicated.

    i can’t even understand it. it’s no wonder MS can’t win. no one can win against that level of idiocy.

    Reply

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