The art of simplicity

The art of simplicity - four dirty paint brushes on a palette

Creating products and services that are simple is hard. Designing experiences that just work for users in a satisfying way takes skill and deliberate practice.

BJ Fogg suggests six areas for making products simpler. These are:

  1. Time – how long does it take to complete the action? The shorter the better. Can you remove any time from the action you’re asking your user to perform?
  2. Money – how much does it cost to take the action? How much inertia is created by adding a request for money?
  3. Physical Effort – how much labour is involved? Are you making your user work harder than they need to perform the action or get benefit from your service?
  4. Mental Effort – this is the amount of brain cycles required for your user to expend to work with you. How taxing is it given everything else your user has to deal with?
  5. Social Deviance – how accepted is the behaviour by others?  The more you make someone stick out and be different, the less likely it is to be done.
  6. Non-routine – how much does the required action fit in with what you do today and how much change do you need to take to make the new behaviour work?


In the product, service or change you’re currently working on, where might you make your buyers or users life simpler?