How Simplicity Can Make Your App a Success

The success of your next app development project might be due to a collaborative effort from the design team, marketing, customer service and more. However, chances are there is one thing that will keep users coming back for more. While innovative designs and clever functionality can impress, many design features can fall flat. The truth is that the best user experiences are more often than not derived from simplicity.

In the increasingly complex world we live in, where time is at a premium, developing a clear offering that can be easily understood and that will deliver a simple, seamless user experience can put your business ahead of the competition.

 

What is Simplicity?

Simplicity is defined as the quality or condition of something being easy to do or understand. Regardless of what is being created, it is about building something that is easy to use. Ultimately, products that have embraced simplicity just work.

When it comes to apps, simplicity is something that all users seek. They don’t want to have to ask how an application works; they just want to be able to use it. This means that, as a designer, you need to create user interfaces that help users achieve their goals more efficiently. The key to this, of course, is understanding what the core purpose of your application is. By understanding the users’ primary goal, you’re able to narrow down your focus on what is most important. More than minimal colours or white space, simplicity in design is about getting rid of the inconsequential elements that stand in the way of what users are trying to achieve.

 

Why Does Simplicity Sell?

The reason simplicity works comes down to our psychology. Without realising it, we all have a bias towards choosing products and experiences that require less cognitive load, or brainpower. At the end of the day, it’s hard work to think, and some of us actively avoid it. It makes sense, we have a lot to fill our days with, so when it comes to a new product or service, we don’t want to think too hard about customer experience. And that makes products that are intuitive and do what they say they’ll do extremely attractive.

 

Brands That Embrace Simplicity

Simplicity is a popular design philosophy that is championed by many successful multinational tech companies. All you have to do is look at some of these widely popular products that exhibit simplicity:

  • Google’s search engine – there are no ads or clutter on the homepage, type in what you’re looking for and hit return. The clean, minimalistic approach gives users just what they’re looking for. It’s as simple as that.

  • Apple iPhone – from the packaging to the sleek design, the iPhone embraces simplicity at its core. And, you’ll have it set up in no time, it is interactive and intuitive to use.

  • Netflix’s subscription-based streaming service – it’s as easy as finding your device, opening the app and pressing play. And, don’t worry about what to watch next, Netflix’s algorithms can work that out for you too.

 

Common Elements of Simple Designs

It can be hard to define simplicity; it is akin to calling something beautiful. However, there are common elements that all of the brands we’ve highlighted above have in common:

  • A core focus – all of these brands have a core focus and ensure that they get the basics right before anything else. Customers aren’t confused with too much choice; they are able to get what they need quickly and efficiently.

  • Tangible value – regardless of how simple their offering, all of these brands offer something that their customers need. Their products have value and improve the lives of their users.

  • Transparency – whether users are subscribing to a service or making a significant upfront investment, all of these brands make it easy to understand what is on offer.

 

How to Achieve Simplicity in Your Next Design Project

Achieving simplicity isn’t always as simple as it sounds. There are embedded processes, established ways of working, organisational structure and more to stand in the way. However, it is well worth trying to override any outdated rules or procedures to put simplicity higher up the agenda.

 

To help incorporate simplicity in your next design project, try to:

  • Understand your user – whatever the purpose of your app, understanding your users is key. You should try to focus on their main goals and ensure that everything is built towards trying to help them achieve those goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  • Reduce cognitive load – part of simplicity in design is putting as little cognitive load as possible on the user. Common, practised tasks don’t take much conscious effort. Leverage customs and design patterns to make your app feel as familiar as possible.

  • Limit options – as your users want to achieve their goal as quickly and efficiently as possible, it helps to limit options in order to guide them there. The best user interfaces will lead their users through a desired path with clear steps.

 

Can Your Business Keep it Simple?

Many of the most popular apps from big brands feel like they’re almost not designed at all, and that is the heart of simplicity. In an age where we are used to using apps for everything, people don’t want to learn how to use yet another one. You want your app to work quickly, help people achieve their goal efficiently and make their day a little better in the process. If your design team can avoid overthinking things and can focus on the core user goals, you will start to hone down on simplicity. After all, users don’t care how clever your design team is. Define the users’ aims and offer the simplest way of achieving them, and you’ll be far closer to creating a sophisticated design.

 

In summary, here are the key ways you can simplify your next app:

  • Focus on a core goal – this will help you to maintain clarity in user interface design and will avoid you confusing users with unnecessary information.

  • Reduce user effort – users want to feel in control without trying too hard. By leveraging commonly used design patterns, you can reduce their cognitive load.

  • Provide a clear view – deliver the essential information clearly throughout. This will remove indecision and hesitation and help users easily navigate through your app.

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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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