Choosing simple design isn’t always so simple

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See the whole interactive panorama at Gilles Vidal’s photography site

Designing for the mobile is often seen as a process of simplification or an effort to “strip out functionality to the core essence of the service.”

Simplicity in design should be a given but is the process of ‘mobilization not miniaturisation” as straightforward?

Interesting perspective here which raises some very good thoughts.

In essence a highly complex functional product can have a “clean” interface – think Google or a product with few features can look cluttered – think Craigslist.

Interestingly portals, dashboards etc. can look very cluttered but are made up of simple elements (see pic above!) The key to making these systems easy to use is to work on matching displays to mental models, and training users on the proper mental models.

Given that growth is inevitable due to added functionality or scale (discuss? – actually I don’t agree with that) an original clean interface may simply stop working. But then pushing things too far to simplify may mean that users are unable to complete their key goals.

This puts it quite well.

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Mobile driving innovation

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Pic courtesy of ifixit

One of the many reasons that I choose to work with mobile technology is that it is often at the leading edge of disruption and transformation.

This is especially true of the travel industry (as I have commented here).

However, Techcrunch has a piece showing that mobile innovation is blowing away pc’s. Rapid advancement in mobile is often attributed to the natural disruption by which emerging industries innovate quickly, while established markets like PCs follow a slower, more sustained trajectory.

However, the article discusses “deeper fundamentals driving the breathtaking pace of smartphone advancement. Component vendors supplying to smartphone OEMs have evolved a much different DNA than those supplying to PC makers. Smartphones are an evolution of embedded systems, not PCs, and embedded markets have long favored vendors who don’t simply provide the most highly integrated chipsets, but who can also partner with OEMs to drive system-level integration and software at a rapid pace.”

For example, in terms of hardware/chipset integration “smartphone vendors have traditionally competed in a much more fragmented supply chain, integrating at a breakneck pace just to survive.  Today’s 3G wireless chipsets integrate GPS, Bluetooth, and 802.11n on a single chip. ”

At systems level “Dozens of component vendors fight each other to the death to win designs at smartphone OEMs. This competitive dynamic forms an entirely different basis for how component vendors approach system integration and support.”

On the software platform everyone is following Apple’s lead and Google seems committed to moving their OS forward. In addition “The competitive interplay between Apple and Google will continue to help smartphone software outpace PCs. But iOS and Android also benefit wildly from the structure of the smartphone industry. Apple and Google are pushed not just by each other, but by the symbiotic advancement in chipsets and the system integration work of component vendors”