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Lessons in Simplicity from Giles Colborne; Takeaways from UX Utsav

Jubin Mehta
18th Jun 2012
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The UXUtsav saw, probably the largest gathering of UX designers in India and some world class speakers led way. Organized by iabox, UXutsav brought together some of the biggest names in the industry to talk about user experience especially in context of India. Giles Colborne, the author of simple and usable and the Managing Director at CX Partners kicked of proceedings with a session on simplicity.

Design is just about starting to get its due in India and attention is being paid to user experience. UX is a very important factor that was being neglected till now and is getting prominence now as it is even more important when one talks about the mobile phone. “Simplicity is talked about in a very complex way,” said Giles. He laid down some very succinct ways of how to keep it simple and useful. His session was backed by critical insights like “People want to do everything on every kind of device”. What he meant here is that one tends to assume that people wouldn’t want to perform a particular activity on say a mobile but that could not be further away from the truth. Results show that people will do everything on every kind of device if made possible.

Further, simplicity is an experience. It is something very personal. Simplicity is not always minimizing or ignoring features, the point is how one does it intelligently. Giles has 4 straight forward rules to make things simple (and being in India, he added one more rule which is very specific):

  • Remove

Take out stuff that is not absolutely necessary. Giles always conducts this game wherein he asks the audience to modify the design of a highly cluttered remote control of a DVD player (more of it in the presentation) and one debate that arises is about the ‘eject’ button. A person doesn’t need it on the remote but everyone wants to have it!

  • Organize

Organization is the key. Sticking to the remote control example, even if you have very less keys but not well organized, it is not simple. You might have to do a lot of iterations but have the right thing at the right place.

  • Hide

Some features are necessary but not necessarily on the face of it. Hide them but in sucha way that they can be found.

  • Displace

Displacement again is an important skill to employ while designing the perfect user experience. A few features take their place by convention at certain places but you might want to displace them.

  • Context

Context is one incredibly powerful factor and especially when it comes to India. One needs to know exactly what one is designing for, be it spatial context or temporal context or any other.

More on simplicity and a few laws in this presentation which does not replicate but comes close to the indepth hands on workshop that was conducted at the UXUtsav.

Secrets of Simplicity: rules for being simple and usable (Giles Colborne)

View more presentations from cxpartners

The talk and the workshop were extremely informative for an UX designer and you can catch hold of giles on Twitter @gilescolborne

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