Less is innovation

Apple engineers coaxed Steve Jobs on impossibility of smart phones without call, cancel, menu, power or music keys. But, Steve was difficult to be convinced by the idea of having multiple keys in a smart phone. The idea felt callous and complicated to him; he was resolute and kept insisting to have only one main (home) key.Shocked engineers wondered on how to create or make something like this. But the engineers ultimately lost to Steve’s dream and dedicated incredible amount of hours, conviction and hard work to convert Steve’s dream into reality.

It is easy to build a phone with multiple keys that do multiple jobs, it was even easier for Steve to just copy. But instead, Steve challenged the conventional wisdom. This is an example of innovation.

Ironically, stripping extras from a product or eliminating extras from your application is not easy. It takes courage, time and loads of thinking to innovate. One, who continuously challenges the conventional wisdom, innovates and succeeds.

What does Microsoft project do? Creates task, allocate resources, budget and do a lot of “other stuff” but does it really do project management. It’s always perceived that tool for project management stands for Microsoft Project , is it? Is there anyone else who challenges the virtue of application being created based on conventional wisdom of project management?

Yes, we do have innovators, 37signals and many other such companies have challenged such conventional wisdom and created innovative apps. The answer to Microsoft project is Basecamp. The answer to search is Google. Almost every application you see is victim of old, sluggish and convention methods.  The gravity of conventional wisdom towards applications and products must be reversed and defied.

The customer needs wonderful, easy, useful and simple applications, lets give them just that.

Web application minus complication

The modern mantra for developing applications today lies in the way we eliminate complications and wastage from the application. The real application is where the user just find the greatest amount of value

What exactly do we mean by complication? Merriam-Webster explains it as follows:

com·pli·cat·ed

adjective \ˈkäm-plə-ˌkā-təd\

difficult to analyze, understand, or explain

When was the last time you visited an application that was easy? seldom right, look at the bank sites, travel sites, insurance sites, your company intranets, SaaS based application on web they all look so confusing and difficult to understand.

How difficult it is to strip out those extra features, unwanted features, difficult navigation, extra buttons, extra process steps, extra links and so on? But yet many so-called application evangelist introduce these complications, why do they do this is a separate point of debate.

Yes, ironically it does takes a lot of effort to prune the process, features and complications from the application but it is worth putting real value in using the application. Value here just means removal of all types of wastage from your application.

Few of the applications I really adore in terms of application minus complication are:

  1. #Google search (it’s the most minimalist design I’ve ever seen)
  2. #Basecamp (Talk about fewer features yet powerful project management and this app stands out of the crowd)
  3. #Apple website (wow!)
  4. #Basecamp breeze (Latest entrant too my favorites! create groups in just 3 steps! Awesome)
  5. #500px (It does what it is supposed to do)
  6. Let me not bore you by more examples, I can write a complete post on top 25 such websites

Go ahead and challenge those inclusions, cut wastage, reduce steps, reduce clicks.  Make your app stand out and let it shine, I guarantee at the end of such exercise you will take pride of you’ve made. Innovation is nothing but achieving same result with least of effort.

If pruning, reducing, minimalism doesn’t work you can blame me for putting this crap on my blog and ruining your application.