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The Complexity Curve: How to Design for Simplicity (SXSW, March 2012)
 

The Complexity Curve: How to Design for Simplicity (SXSW, March 2012)

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Interfaces and devices are providing more and more power and functionality to people, and in many cases this additional power is accompanied by increasing complexity. Although people have more ...

Interfaces and devices are providing more and more power and functionality to people, and in many cases this additional power is accompanied by increasing complexity. Although people have more experience and are more sophisticated, it still takes time to learn new interfaces, information, and interactions. Although we are able to learn and use these often difficult interfaces, we increasingly seek and appreciate simplicity.

The Complexity Curve describes how a project moves from boundless opportunity and wonderful ideas to requirements checklists and constraints then finally (but only rarely) to simplicity and elegance. Where many projects call themselves complete when the necessary features have been included, few push forward and strive to deliver the pleasing and delightful experiences that arise from simplicity, focus, and purpose.

David M. Hogue, Ph.D. - VP of Experience Design, applied psychologist, and adjunct faculty member at San Francisco State University - introduces the Complexity Curve, discuss why our innovative ideas seem to fade over the course of a project, explain why "feature complete" is not the same as "optimal experience", and offer some methods for driving projects toward simplicity and elegance.

Comments on twitter at #SXsimplerUX

Audio available at:

http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP13657

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  • Simplifying material is related to the listener's cognitive over load. http://innovationinstitute.blogspot.com/2013/10/simplifying-inventions.html
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  • I like your presentation, do you have any sources for your complex systems statement on slide 36?

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  • You can find the Audio here: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP13657
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    The Complexity Curve: How to Design for Simplicity (SXSW, March 2012) The Complexity Curve: How to Design for Simplicity (SXSW, March 2012) Presentation Transcript

    • COMPLEXITYsimplicity
    • The Complexity Curve Designing for Simplicity @DaveHogue #SXsimplerUX
    • WelcomeDavid M. Hogue, Ph.D.VP XD at FluidSan Francisco
    • Complexity is easy.We can make anything complex.
    • Even our wristwatches.
    • Simple to read, difficult to set.
    • Not much has changed…
    • Daylight Saving Time Starts tonight at 2:00 am.Do you know how to set your watch?
    • To make something simpler, we first need to define complexity, which is, ironically, not simple.
    • What is complexity?
    • complexusentwined; twisted together (Latin)
    • “… I know it when I see it …”Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart(Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964)
    • Three perspectives: Designers People (Users) Scientists
    • Designers Appearance Aesthetics Style
    • Space
    • Noise
    • Hierarchyhttp://blog.typekit.com/2011/03/17/type-study-typographic-hierarchy/
    • Designers Functionality Context Flow
    • Interactivity
    • Dark Pattern?
    • What is the goal?
    • Structure
    • Flow
    • PeopleRelevance Difficulty Clarity
    • Clutterhttp://www.uie.com/brainsparks/2011/11/04/clutter/
    • Difficulty
    • Confusion
    • Scientists Chaos
    • Weather
    • Edward Lorenz, Sc.D. dt/dx = σ(y−x) dt/dy = x(τ−z)−y dt/dz = xy− βz
    • Lorenz Attractor
    • ChaosDynamical systems Deterministic Not predictable
    • Chaos Self-organizing Emergent structureSensitivity to perturbation
    • Butterfly Effect
    • Some things arenaturally complex. So why discuss chaos?
    • Complex systems that appearto have an impossibly largenumber of variables can actuallybe described and understoodwith remarkably few.
    • The Complexity CurveIn which the level of complexity increases the further we get into a design project.
    • Complexity Curve
    • Complexity Curve
    • Where does complexity come from?
    • Let’s skip the obvious:Disregard for designwww.webpagesthatsuck.com 790 Flickr groups with “bad design” in the name
    • Designers Models Patterns Scope CreepConstraints & Requirements
    • Expectations v. RealityMental Conceptual SystemModel Model Model(user) (interface) (device)
    • Mental Model Mismatch Impedes progress Interrupts focus Incorrect direction
    • Designers Models Patterns Scope CreepConstraints & Requirements
    • Copying Patterns
    • Anti-Patterns
    • Dark Patterns
    • New and different
    • Designers Models Patterns Scope CreepConstraints & Requirements
    • Scope Creep (Jog or Run) Forgotten features Absent stakeholders Vendor systems
    • Executive Bungee-Jumping
    • Designers Models Patterns Scope CreepConstraints & Requirements
    • Constraints & Requirements Technical constraints Legal requirements Business unit requirements
    • System Model ExposureWhere is the current price per share?Why cant I buy a certain total value?
    • PeopleDifficultyExpertise
    • Do not conflatecomplexity with difficulty.Difficult tasks often appear complex only until we have learnedthe necessary knowledge and skills.
    • High cognitive loads feel difficult. Understanding and memoryProblem-solving and decision-making Associations and connections
    • PeopleDifficultyExpertise
    • Developing ExpertiseDeclarative Procedural AutomaticityKnowledge Knowledge (Habits)
    • Novices & Experts
    • Technology Limitations
    • Limitations Materials ManufacturingTechnological capability
    • Inexorably Forward
    • What can be done about complexity?
    • Not everything should be simple.
    • Law of ParsimonyAll things being equal, simpler solutionsare generally better than complex ones.
    • The Complexity Curve In which the level of complexitymay be decreased if we continue to iterate and refine the design.
    • Complexity Curve
    • Complexity Curve
    • Technology Advances
    • Materials and Manufacturing
    • Patience
    • Forward Forces
    • PeopleMotivation Transfer Support
    • A sufficiently motivated person will tolerate: Complexity Difficulty Confusion
    • Sometimes we need to teach people, because we cannot make it any simpler.
    • Transfer ofknowledge and skills Instruction Demonstration Analogy
    • DesignLeverage our ignorance Place people first Use mental models Focus & Reduce Iterate
    • Leverage our ignorance. Often our best ideas arise before wehave become shackled by constraints. Write them down before we know why we can’t do them. Then return to them.
    • Put people first. Motivation Behavior Emotion Creativity
    • Use mental models. Match conceptual and mental models Hide system models
    • Mental models evolve
    • Conceptual models evolve
    • Focus ReduceAttention Effort Flow Time Errors
    • However, Simplicity is not just about reduction.Do not confuse subtraction with simplification.
    • “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    • Complexity moves.
    • Shift the complexity…
    • …away from the person.
    • Law of Conservation of Complexity
    • Feature completeis not experience optimized.
    • Iteration IncubationCross-pollination Observation
    • New solutions…
    • …emerge.
    • None of these solutions,advances, and innovationscould have been possible without...
    • Critical ThinkingA persistent effort to examine any belief, idea, or fact in terms of the available evidence.
    • We know that designers: Ask questions Gather information Identify problems Generate ideas Evaluate options Communicate solutions
    • Critical thinkers go further: Ask questions Gather information Identify problems Recognize assumptions Assess relationships Generate ideas Evaluate options Consider consequences Communicate solutions
    • Designing for simplicity is not about Checklists Formulas Patterns Rules
    • It is about Thinking and reasoningUnderstanding the problem Analyzing and optimizing
    • So, how do we make stuff simpler?
    • Ten Opportunities to Simplify
    • “Messy & Confusing” Irrelevance Disorganization Ambiguity
    • Indirect Action Abstracted DisconnectedIncreased cognitive load
    • Everything to Everyone Too many variables Too little focus
    • Design by Consensus Scope creep (or worse…)
    • “Nice to have…” Noise Clutter Excess
    • Copying Solutions Misapplied patterns
    • Map Structure toOrganization or Technology Exposes the system model
    • Leading with Technology Solving the wrong (or non-existent) problems
    • A solution looking for a problem?
    • Or a tremendous opportunity?
    • Designing for Yourself Ignoring the person’s mental models
    • Accepting Assumptions Not collecting data Absence of critical thinking
    • It may be complex if…“Messy & Confusing” Copying SolutionsIndirect Action Map to OrganizationEverything to Everyone Lead with TechnologyDesign by Consensus Design for Yourself“Nice to Have…” Accept Assumptions
    • Thanks!David M. Hogue, Ph.D.VP XD at FluidSan Francisco
    • The Complexity Curve Designing for Simplicity
    • Credits