“The most important goal belonging to effective communication is clarity. Clarity is not the same similarly to simplicity … Complexity can be made towards appear clear via effective organization […]. Clarity refers for the focus on top of one particular message alternatively goal on a time, rather than attempting for accomplish too much in once.” – Michael Hoffman
Clarity can be created via simplification, nevertheless not everything is amenable towards simplification.
Clarity vs Simplicity
Simple things are usually clear all via themselves. The trick is making complex things clear.
Clarity requires intent . Without a clear goal, you will struggle towards explain at which place you want towards go. Unfortunately I know associated with no easy rule due to distilling the intent.
We already discussed how towards simplify designs . John Maeda is a designer outside belonging to the MIT Media Lab. He wrote a book regarding this – the Laws belonging to Simplicity .
Asking each part “are you really, truly, honestly necessary?” helps us simplify. We can remove clutter, nevertheless sometimes we have several things what we absolutely, positively must have.
Sometimes the relationship amidst different elements is vital for understanding the intention. Simplifying inside separate pieces can lead towards a loss associated with context.
Consider this wizard: every page has been simplified towards the minimum:
Each step is very simple, yet the whole process is not really clear. Remember at the time you are looking on the first step within the wizard, you don’t know which is coming on top of the next screen. The user has towards remember the thing that was on top of the previous screen as well as which was typed there. We have traded simplicity atop the screen because of complexity inside the user’s head. The intent associated with the screen is clear, nevertheless the screen does not fulfill the intent; it only fills part associated with the intent. Maybe a wizard wasn’t really necessary? Maybe a simple one page dialog would be clearer?
Clearing Things up
Intention: the thing that are you trying for achieve?
This page explains which clarity is, as well as illustrates some techniques due to improving clarity inside your own designs.
The next few sections will hopefully give you some ideas because of attacking stubborn complex problems inside your own designs.
Instead associated with trying towards find the core message inside the parts that we have, another approach is for try for restructure things hence that we have new parts. A complex problem can appear simpler accompanied by a different perspective.
This may involve coming up accompanied by new categories because of things, alternatively coming up together with a new way associated with organizing. If the answer you have is too complex, try asking a different question.
For example: you might have a complex pricing system accompanied by lots associated with different options, together with a web calculator for help the customer :
This is super flexible plus quite advanced. Customers can put together exactly the package that they want. The problem is that customers often don’t know which they want, as well as whenever faced accompanied by too many choices, humans will avoid making a choice outside belonging to fear belonging to missing outwards on top of something. See the fascinating book Predictably Irrational because of a look in the psychology in the rear of this tendency.
We re-frame the complex decision via offering pre-assembled suites – reducing the number associated with variables the customer has towards consider, as well as hopefully making the decision easier.
With only three options towards choose between, the customer should feel less overwhelmed through complexity.
Move the pieces around. Try organizing through time, via size, via name, via place, via hierarchy.
For example, in case we have a collection associated with people we can present them similarly to a list alternatively via the organizational hierarchy:
Different information structures reveal different relationships.
- Lists are easily sorted, searched plus filtered. Using multiple columns a list can communicate a lot belonging to information is a compact space.
- Trees are less easy for sort, nevertheless show whom is the boss belonging to who. The tree makes it easy for summarize alternatively hide a chunk associated with the tree. Relationships become visible that are difficult towards spot within a list.
- A map displays position, yet in addition reveals clustering/grouping information that might not be easy for see within a list alternatively tree.
A powerful technique is towards hide “advanced functionality” hence that it does not distract stemming from the most common uses. BusFine does this through putting extra fields plus interests on top of separate tabs. Most associated with the time you are looking in name as well as address information, nevertheless the other information is inside easy reach lacking crowding the main screen. This is often called ” progressive disclosure “.
Maybe a different emphasis will make your intent clearer? In user interface design the various buttons as well as controls communicate intent by means of their visual appearance as well as their context.
Dropdowns vs Radio buttons vs Checkboxes
These three are equivalent, yet one is much clearer than the other. The intent “not exclusive choices” is clearest at the time using checkboxes. The radio buttons are easily mis-read as the eye likes vertical groups more than horizontal groupings. The dropdown menu uses two clicks for change a selection instead belonging to just one.
This is equivalent for copy-editing a user-interface. Rather than a full re-write, you are working inside the structure you have; just changing a word alternatively widget here as well as there for try for make things clearer. Jason Fried writes concerning the details belonging to the re-writing process – showing how for cut 40% belonging to the words within a sentence lacking losing meaning.
Some things are inherently complex, as well as are difficult for simplify via just eliminating distractions. Maybe the pieces you have aren’t the right pieces. Maybe you need towards start over? The 37 signals redesign story is worth reading: it shows how designers explore many different solutions prior to synthesizing a final result based on top of which was learned.
The first couple associated with ideas you have are the obvious ones that everyone thinks of. It’s the next ten alternatively twenty ideas that force you towards become creative; towards push the boundaries as well as really think exterior to the box.
This is a sketch belonging to different BusFine user-interface direction. We didn’t end up going this direction, nevertheless you have for try something previously you can reject it.
This is an example belonging to a completely different approach towards organizing the information within SuperOffice. It is a fun idea, nevertheless ultimately proved for be too confusing. Too much information in the same time, accompanied by no clear purpose for it.