Designers Challenge

Shockey Monkey
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This is not a sales/SPAM post but I do have to frame it for you in perspective: We’re working on the updates to Shockey Monkey which will soon be powering over 10,000 businesses worldwide. Design of the look, feel, flow and integration of elements for the total user experience is not an entirely random task left up to focus groups, it goes down to the core of business design.

Compromising On Goals

You can have it simple or you can have the details.

You can’t have both.

When you design something with simplicity in mind you cannot pack it with controls, input boxes, text areas, sliders and jam everything on a single screen. You also can’t embed it into 50 tabs because the user interface will look like a gorilla sat on the keyboard while Excel was open. “Oh, you want to see your sales performance? That’s in tab AAZ”

The case for simplicity is easy: When you have a small company (or staff it with small minds – think cashiers and point of sale personnel) you want to eliminate anything that can cause confusion. The goal is to make everything so easy and clear that nobody can make a mistake or take a long time to perform a task.

Small companies need to focus on simplicity first and foremost because the challenge of attacking a bunch of problems with a complex tool doesn’t solve problems – it just adds another problem to the stack!

But after you’ve gone through the process of accounting for the simplest of tasks, do you jam people into a complex CRM? (Hint: Remember what I said about small minds..)

You will always have newbies who are not familiar with your system – who are not familiar with the way you manage and run your business. In a nutshell, you will always have to chase simplicity and productivity. Always. No exceptions. Ever.

Yet when you get organized and have all of your information in one place, diving into that information for details or collecting additional information does something productivity improvements never could: it improves profitability and accountability of the organization.

Lot’s of inefficiencies and lost opportunities hide in the details. Yet without simplicity and getting your business organized in the first place you can never find out where they hide.

Challenge

As we’ve been drawing, redrawing, looking at user feedback, requirements, customer feature requests, bugs, our notes and so on I’ve had this in front of me:

Remember:

People love your software because it’s simple.

Every time I think of adding one more control, one more tab, one more popup, one more thing… I try to remember – nothing can be more than a few clicks from the login. Nothing should span multiple pages.

When it comes to design – be it for software or for stuff you present to your clients – it needs to fit on a single page. Ever wonder why trifold brochures never work or why nobody reads marketing collateral that comes as a book? Because it’s too much crap, all piled in and jammed onto as little of a space as possible because we can’t afford not to do what other guys do so we must mention it and talk about our stuff as well. In other words, Microsoft.

If you can’t fit it on a single page, you’ve failed.

If you can’t simplify it, you’ve failed.

But if you can’t effectively evaluate your process because you’re driving a car through the forest at 90mph.. then you either have to come to terms that you’re going to make mistakes.. or compromise.

In our case, compromise comes at the expense of inconvenience for some. I wanted to stress that because from the design standpoint, I won’t put out a product that is difficult to use – ever – because that’s already done. But if someone wants to be difficult and put their users/employees through some inefficiency because they feel they can gain better corporate performance – hey, I’m all for it!

Micromanage them to death, baby!

{Everyone that works for me just started crying, in unison }

One Response to Designers Challenge

  1. Thx for your post, I really enjoy your blog. Long time lurker, first time commenter, you know the drill. I tried to share this one time before, I don’t think it posted correctly…hopefully it will this time!

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