There has been a lot of buzz since SAPPHIRE around the word simple.
This was triggered by Bill McDermot’s keynote speech announcing that all customers
deserve a “simple, gorgeous user experience with SAP”.
What does this mean, what does simple mean, how can we design simple User
Experiences, how do we get into the mindset of simple ?
At the same time, really for perhaps the last year, there has been a lot written about
the Millenials, there are a lot of blogs on the SCN about Millenials. Just search for the
word Millenial, you’ll find,
blogs by Millenials telling everyone else just what Millenials want and who they are
blogs by non-Millenials welcoming Millenials into the SAP world
blogs by non-Millenials advising everyone else how to behave with and what to expect
What do Millenials know, that most of us non-Millenials don’t know ?
Infact, it is highly possible, that this is so ingrained into the Millenial’s dna that a Millenial
doesn’t know they know this, they just take it for granted because they have grown up with
it and for them it is normal.
For them it’s like riding a bike.
Millenials know how to keep things simple. Millenials have grown up with simplicity, and
therefore, when a Millenial will be thinking about User Interface design, a Millenial will
automatically, find a way to keep it simple whilst achieving the goals of the design.
On top of this, as Millenials have grown up with simple, we can be sure they will accept nothing
less and be positively turned off by anything which is anything but simple.
This means, Bill and SAP are indeed right, and we’ve got to get into simple and start making
everything simple, otherwise products and services which are not presented in a simpler form
will look old and passe and become neglected, under utilisied and subsequently redundent – and
so will we !
For us non-Millenials, User Interface design is something else, most of us from a Computer Science
background will have grown up with vdu green screen terminals, and have been trained in creating
menu based interfaces to database applications. Remember, layers and layers of menu’s navigated
sequentially backwards and forwards. This approach was ingrained into us.
Subsequently, with the arrival of windowed based graphical user interfaces we moved from layers of text
based menus to layers of graphical menus with the same underlying design principles and language
albeit in a graphical form.
If you don’t believe me just have a look at most corporate websites, and websites in general, menus
and menus and pages and pages leading from menus, and you can see the origins of the thinking
behind these menu and page based graphical user interfaces. They’re still clumsy, they’re still bulky,
but they’re now graphical.
And then Bill Mcdermot says, we have to make the User Experience simple.
Well how do we Generation Xers do that, how do we get into the mindset of simple interface design ?
Where less is more, where less is actually beautiful ?
I’ll tell you how we do it, it happened to me last week.
Timing is everything.
Last week, a friend who has a website for his company, and who has never touched Facebook asked
me to help him to setup a Facebook page for his company.
Until that request I had also never touched Facebook. So where to start ?
I cheated and purchased ‘Facebook for Dummies’ to use as a Rapid Deployment Solution for getting
started with Facebook.
So, having read the main parts of the book, I looked at my friend’s company website, thought about the
key attributes to the company website,
the product and sales/marketing contact details
the company and contact details
I then proceeded to
setup a Facebook account for my friend
setup a Facebook Page for my friend’s company
setup the vanity url for the company
setup the Facebook Page’s ‘About’ section with the company information
setup the Facebook Page’s TimeLine in a logical intuitive representation of
the key product information and pictures interspersed with sales contact details
in a form of headlines and pictures telling a story
the result we say, what a result, the result is, the Facebook page for my friend’s company
It is beautiful in its simplicity.
The page is so simple, so clear, so logical, all required information is there, with pictures,
in a logical order in the timeline.
Less is more.
If we compare the Facebook Page to the company’s website, there is a fraction of the information
on the Facebook Page, there is a fraction of the content and the clutter, there is a fraction of
the pages and confusion and information overload presented on the company’s website.
The Facebook Page has shown, infact, an example of how the company’s website should be setup.
The Facebook page has triggered a redesign of the company’s website into a more elegant, simpler,
Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn when Intranets first came along, this was 20 years
ago, the push was that every company needed an Intranet. Intranet sites were created, and filled,
literally filled with content, everything was put into the Intranet site, hidden behind layers
and layers of sequential menu’s. Could anybody ever find anything on an Intranet site ?
This is the point which us Generation Xers need to get, if we want to understand simple, then we have
to get into simple and start doing simple and being part of simple. Once we are in simple, doing simple,
then we will be able to think simple, and we will see the simple light and our products and services
will become simple.
So how do us Generation Xers become simple ?
Go get a Facebook account and start creating Facebook Pages. Then get a Twitter account and link the
two together, then Instagram etc.
Then an only then, when we are buried in simple upto our eyebrows can we begin to see, think, breath, be,
At that point, we will become qualified and positioned to fulfill the demands of the coming generation
of Users and create simple.
You know what you need to do.