Processes: Simplification

Simplification is about making the information as concise and to the point as possible.

As one of the main aims of Infogineering is to allows people to form an understanding of what you mean to get across as quickly as possible, simplifying things allows you to achieve this.

Don’t use over-complicated words where more basic ones could be used. Rather than using graphs with multiple sets of information, split them up so that each makes its own point.

People tend to make things more complicated than they need to for several reasons:

  • They think it makes them look smarter – simple things look childish
  • They think it makes it look like they did more work (a forty-page report looks like it takes more work than a four-page report)
  • It makes the reader/listener dependent on them to explain what it means

In reality, people appreciate it when others go out of their way to make things simpler for them. As our lives become more complicated, we need to be able to get what we need faster.

Look at how the iPod had barely five buttons to press – when most digital devices at the time were pursuing the “let’s see how many buttons we can fit in a square-inch” approach.

In the late-90’s, search engines (such as Yahoo! and MSN) were supplementing their search engine query pages with news, weather, stock market figures… lots of “useful stuff.” A little company called Google came along with one of the simplest interfaces on the Web – just a box to type some words in and a couple of buttons. The rest is history.

If you are worried about making things too simple, make sure you understand and use Layered Complexity.

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