Archive for the ‘design’ Category

The importance of ease of use and simplistic design

I just got off completing a task on Google base. My task was to upload 2500 products for an ecommerce site on to google base. Guess how much time it took me ? Exactly 32 minutes – from the time to download all the products from the ecommerce site, to formatting them into the google base format (which I was not aware of before I started) to uploading the file, to making a few corrections when the upload showed errors down to a fully successful upload.

Now I’ve done an upload to other shopping sites like Pricegrabber and shopzilla. And it took much longer for the same data. Why ?

That lead me to compare the products and I could only point it out to one thing – easy and simplistic design. Google base walked me through the steps. When there was a problem, it showed me a clear link with directions on how to fix it. It kept me away from the internal problems and the page design was clear and crisp. That was not the case with the other products.

There is a reason why products with simple design are doing well. Take the 37signals product Basecamp for example. It would have been so easy for them to clutter it up, add too many things. However the success of the product is in its simplicity and ease of use.

How many of you pay attention to this when creating products ? Is every new feature really necessary. Will it clutter things up ? Will it make the product more complex for the rest of the people that are already using it ?  That’s always a very important question to ask.

Remember the color-blind in your design!

Yes, you guessed it – I am color-blind. I cannot differentiate green from gray and sometimes especially on the web, green from red. Many people think color-blindness is the inability to see color (i.e. see only black and white) which I find very funny. Color-blind people can see color, but not differentiate between a few of them.

So here are some facts – In the US, 7% of the male population are color-blind

Also, most early adopters for technology are males.
Given these facts, I’m somewhat surprised that a lot of services, even the most popular ones do not design or account for this.

Google trends uses color codes to differentiate between trend graphs. Compete uses color codes to differentiate between websites in their graphs. Recently I was very interested in a service that could allow me to aggregate all my email accounts. I tried Fuser but I was unable to use it because they use color codes to differentiate which email account the email came from. For me that was a deal-breaker and I will not be able to use their service till they find another way and I believe 7% of males will not as well (hope someone’s listening!!). Note: I am waiting for Orgoo to launch and I certainly hope they don’t do the same thing …

However, it then goes back to my original question ? Why do services not take this factor into account when designing their services ?