~ you’re reading...

Easy is better. Easy is faster. Easy is cleaner.

Some time ago I read an article on the 37signals blog which inspired me and triggered several thoughts. One part of the article struck me so much it deserves a quote right here:

Easy could mean faster. Easier could mean more obvious. Easy could mean a lot of things. But the part of easy I like is when you take an existing problem, study it until it becomes clear, toss out everything that makes it blurry, and carefully polish what’s left over.

In the world of web software development, and also in other web development business you might be in, it deserves a golden phrase plaque on the wall. Everyone should remember that less is more and everything that you’re adding to the basic functionality of an app is overkill.

A web app, or any app for that matter, should be designed for what it’s supposed to do, not for what else he could be doing. These days many apps can do multiple things: recording, sharing, writing, drawing, gaming, turning your lights on and off and sharing you’ve turned your houselights on and off. It’s just all too much!

The thing we’re supposed to be focussing on, we as designers and developers, is to make it easier for the user to be using what we’re making. Users are not supposed to be thinking about how to use the app, but instead start using it right away. This means more work for us, which means more fun for us too (yay), but it also means the user will appreciate the end-product more, because they can be getting the result they’re expecting from the app faster.

Can you remember the time you’ve started using a new app, free or purchased, and you’re trying to figure out how to use it in to get the best results out of it? I’ve encountered that kind of situation more than enough and the first thing I do when I’m starting to use such a product is to toss it aside and find a better one; if it was free, of course. For a product that I’ve purchased, though, I’d try it a little bit longer and try to stick with it for a little while longer and find some ways to use it for the best use still. But still always be knowing the app could have been of better use to me.

I know I’ve been talking too much about the use of a technical product already that I’ve almost forgotten this story wasn’t about development, but about the general meaning of ‘easy’. If you’ve come so far, reading through the development story of ‘easy’, I can tell you the meaning of this story also applies to other aspects in life. Even though I don’t want to use it in the focus of ‘live’ since ‘life’ is bigger than anything anyway.

You’ve done it the hard way before, so when you experience the easy way you immediately know the difference.

When you try to achieve something you would far more likely choose the easy to way of getting there, instead of the hard and difficult way. Although in some situations the hard and difficult way might teach you one or two things more besides what you want to achieve, but it’s definitely far more tiring and energy consuming. The easy way is always easier! That doesn’t mean you should always do it alone, but you can also ask for help to make it easier on you. People that already have obtained the knowledge from the hard way might teach you some things you wouldn’t learn on the easy way.

Conclusion: You always have a choice of going the hard way or the easy way. You have to choose for yourself if you’re going to take the hard way, spend enormous amounts of energy in something you can learn (and learning you shall!), or take the easy way, ask for help, gather knowledge, consult people who went through a similar path before, and achieve the same goal, maybe even with making some friends along the way. People who’ve taken the hard way before can tell you how it was back there, how you shouldn’t be going there and how you can achieve the same in another way.

I can say I’ve not always taken the easy way. I could’ve taken the easy way a lot more and known more by asking other people for advice. Instead I’ve quite often taken the hard way and tried to do everything for myself. So believe me when I say: Trust other people’s help and advice. It’ll pay off and help you greatly in your way to achieve your goal. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel when someone has already invented it.