Why Simple Wins

I’m a payments geek, I freely admit, and read about this stuff for fun. I get a kick of out it, and miss it when I haven’t had time to dig into what’s behind the acronym soup that I’ve seen but don’t really understand.  I like knowing about such things– I am broadly curious– and talking about them. But from many missteps I’ve learned that when talking about my passion I have to edit.

Simple works, and will lead to adoption of complicated technology.

Think of Square– simplicity in the interface, and in the pricing. Whatever their prospects as a business, the rapid adoption of their first product is a testament to simplicity.

Affirm looks to be doing the same.  The basic Google search page did– and still does– as well. And incredible amount is going on behind the doodle, but what we see is very simple.

But simple is difficult.

There was a great piece in the NYT  recently about Apple’s (top secret, of course) internal training program.  Piccaso’s drawings of a bull are used as an example of how removing most elements of a image can produce something much more elegant that coveys the same meaning–the images are in the article.  The whole experience of the training program is described as something that is “… meticulously planned, with polished presentations and a gleaming veneer that masks a great deal of effort.”

Another example used in  Apple training compares the Google TV remote to that of Apple.  Google’s has 78 button; Apple’s has 3. Complex technology is central to the future.  But if not masked by a veneer of simplicity, it often fails.  Creating the veneer is more difficult than writing the code.

A favorite story of mine  goes to this point. A publisher once sent a telegram to Mark Twain saying “NEED 2-PAGE SHORT STORY TWO DAYS.” Twain replied “NO CAN DO 2 PAGES TWO DAYS. CAN DO 30 PAGES 2 DAYS. NEED 30 DAYS TO DO 2 PAGES.”

Technology has changed mightily, but the challenge of simple remains.



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One Response to “Why Simple Wins”

  1. Leonard Phillips August 19, 2014 at 01:48 #

    Yep, simple wins, in many venues of commerce. The first new car I bought was a 1981 Honda Accord, back when their advertising campaign, and more importantly, their business campaign, was “Simple.” They limited the number of models and options–it was very appealing, didn’t don’t overwhelm you with choices.

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