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I'm designing the front end of a tool, and my team seems to want to use all of the built-in ui features. However, this will result in a lot of redundant and inelegant functionality, from my perspective.

The ipod took three buttons on walkmans, play, pause, and stop, and merged the functionality into a single button that toggles play and pause. This change in interface was incredibly successful, and likely also simpler to implement and maintain and less costly to build.

How do I persuade my team that we need the ipod, and not the walkman? How do I persuade them that less is more?

  • uxmyths.com/post/712569752/… This article has all the information you should need and a lot of handy links to other external articles and studies. Not posting as an answer since none of this is my own original work. – Anindya Basu May 1 '14 at 16:35
  • @AnindyaBasu rarely are answers original work. If you can sum up, that would be nice. – Aaron Hall May 1 '14 at 18:14
  • You can persuade base on facts or opinions. I think user research (done properly) is the most persuasive for logical decision making processes. You just need to make sure that this is the basis upon which decisions are made. – Michael Lai May 2 '14 at 0:18
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Testing. Even your implication that less is more is baseless without research. Get some early iteration mock-ups in front of some archetypal users and get some feedback. It is the tension between UX and UI design, which a decade ago was the tension between UI design and Developers. The person creating it always thinks they know what the user wants, we'll never know until a) we release and hope and pray that the result turns out as expected, or b) get some eyes on it and get some user response.

BTW, your statement "How do I persuade my team that we need the ipod, and not the walkman?" is somewhat problematic. The walkman was a revolutionary device that changed the music listening landscape. The ipod was an evolutionary revision of the walkman. The walkman's success was in part based on its brilliant design in context. Ignoring the context makes the designer's job just guesswork. Get some user feedback if you want to convince anyone of anything, including reinforcing your own ideas so you know what you're doing is right.

  • Nothing better than logic but evidence! :) – Aaron Hall May 2 '14 at 15:11
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Having choices is usually a good thing however there's also a fine line between enough choices and too many. The more choices there are the harder it is to understand the interface and the steeper the learning curve gets [citation needed]. Too many choices actually leads to Decision Paralysis.

I hate to cite Wikipedia but it might be good to show your colleagues the Wiki page on Hick's Law which essentially also states that the time it takes to make a decision goes up with the complexity of the interface and the number of choices available. And as that decision time increases, the overall user experience suffers.

While it's nice to have all these options to implement, it's also very important to be able to kill features that aren't absolutely essential to your product. One way to decrease choices users have to make is by using default values for everything, try pitching something like that.

See this article for sources and all the studies linked in the article.

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This is often a problem. One I struggled with often and in some cases can never be solved. It depends on who you are working with really. It isn't to say you are right and they are wrong (or vice versa), though you must think of the user and their expectations.

Here are a few of the ways I would try to teach some of my colleagues into the less is more:

  • If this feature was removed entirely from the page, would it make it unusable? If the answer is that it can continue to work, then it must not be necessary.
  • Is this a feature that our competitors have and are using it as one of their primary selling points?
  • Does this feature bring in additional revenue? Can it bring in revenue?
  • If the feature is removed tomorrow, what would users say? Would they notice?
  • If you have data for that feature. How many people are using this feature? How are people using this feature?
  • When we perform updates, how much additional time must we take to update this feature?

The big problem with many of the products launched is that they simply have too many features. It is difficult for users to understand what the intent of the product truly is. The idea is to put up the minimum viable product (MVP) and improve upon that. In time the product will morph and that is to be expected. Though at a core the user must be able to understand and even be able to describe the core of the product.

Unfortunately I was unable to properly voice my opinion that we had too much in many of our products. Though the product itself was really nothing more than 3-4 core features, we launched with over 35 features. The marketing for the product was complicated, the new user experience was confusing (tutorial), and users couldn't quite get what the product was trying to accomplish for them (what problem are you looking to solve?). In the end the product failed. I took it and relaunched it with the 3 core features, heavily simplified and people got it. Marketing was simple and then we had a lot to work with.

Less is more solves a lot of problems, not only for your users.

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Talk like a designer to them.

The designer's most important (and most difficult) task is to take away.

"Designer" objects are typically simplified versions, because the designer has reduced it to its most necessary, and thus, its most elegant.

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