Posts Tagged simplicity

how important is prioritization?

Mark Pincus, Zynga;

One of the most important things a manager can do on weekly basis is ruthlessly focus on prioritization. There’s never any lack of good ideas. Every team has 10 great ideas they’re really excited about. The problem is picking which of the 2 or 3 to focus on.

The lesson we get over and over again is a small number of features really connect with the users and get explosive results. You actually have diminishing returns with more features. When you’re picking the right features to go deep on, the user starts to have this trust and expectation that the next thing you bring out is going to be great.

No matter how big or how small your company is, you are always resource constrained. If you talk to Microsoft, or Google, or Yahoo–the biggest companies with the most engineers–every product manager will say they’re resource constrained. If they just could have twice the people, they could get everything done. No matter where you are, you have to be ruthless about how you’re using people. “


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complexity kills

Complexity kills. Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT.  Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use.  Complexity introduces security challenges.  Complexity causes administrator frustration.

And as time goes on and as software products mature – even with the best of intent – complexity is inescapable.”

Ray Ozzie, dawn of a new day

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it is your duty to ask simple questions


“We get seduced by the complicated in Western society,” Ms. Zimmerman says. “We’re in awe of it and we pull away from the duty to ask simple questions, which we do whenever we deal with matters that are complex.”

We are drawn to complexity. We fear simplicity.

In design, it is easy to slip in to adding choices, options or features.
In thought and words, we like to use long words or acronyms and jargon.
When writing we include needless words, and struggle to stick to the point.

Asking simple, direct and even ‘dumb’ questions can help you get to the heart of the matter.

omit needless words :

simplification failure :

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frugal innovation


Being budget minded, focused on simplicity, challenging of the design & the processes and being aware of the implications of huge market sizes. Focus on customer.

“The term is quite commonly used in countries such as India or China to describe a specific kind of innovation which takes great care to minimise costs of innovation and cost of final product.

“Frugal innovation is not just about redesigning products; it involves rethinking entire production processes and business models. Companies need to squeeze costs so they can reach more customers, and accept thin profit margins to gain volume. Three ways of reducing costs are proving particularly successful.”

  • Contract out more work
  • Use existing technology in imaginative ways
  • Apply mass-production technique in new and unexpected areas

The Economist’s special report on innovation in emerging markets

Jeff Bezos;

Q: The company has a reputation for frugality. Does that apply to the way you innovate?
A: I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out. When we were [first] trying to acquire customers, we didn’t have money to spend on ad budgets. So we created the associates program, [which lets] any Web site link to us, and we give them a revenue share. We invented one-click shopping so we could make check-out faster. Those things didn’t require big budgets. They required thoughtfulness and focus on the customer.

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are your eyes bigger than your belly?

eye belly

So much time and energy goes in to designing, implementing, testing and releasing software features that only a minority of people use.

“Only 20% of a mobile phone’s features are used regularly; up to a quarter remain completely undiscovered”

from a study by WDSGlobal

1 billion apps downloaded from the App Store, yet most go used or unexplored. Our appetite is there, and for whatever reason our hunger fades quickly.

“Pinch Media drawing on iPhone analytics data highlights that (only) ~20% of user’s ever return to use an application the day after it is installed. There are many ways to interpret this data: the harshest being that ~80% of user’s are so unimpressed with their application that they never return to it.”

In some cases breadth of function is important, although no excuse for complexity.

“A lot of software developers are seduced by the old "80/20" rule. It seems to make a lot of sense: 80% of the people use 20% of the features. So you convince yourself that you only need to implement 20% of the features, and you can still sell 80% as many copies.

Unfortunately, it’s never the same 20%. Everybody uses a different set of features.”

Is featuritis driven by fear?

“Fear of being perceived as having fewer features than your competitors. Fear that you won’t be viewed as complete. Fear that people are making purchase decisions off of a checklist, and that he who has the most features wins (or at the least, that he who has the fewest features definitely loses). Fear of losing key clients who say, "If you don’t add THIS… I’ll have to go elsewhere."

Be brave. And besides, continuing to pile on new features eventually leads to an endless downhill slide toward poor usability and maintenance. A negative spiral of incremental improvements. Fighting and clawing for market share by competing solely on features is an unhealthy, unsustainable, and unfun way to live.

Be the "I Rule" product, not the "This thing I bought does everything, but I suck!" product.”

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productivity list

1. Do one thing at a time
2. Know the problem
3. Learn to listen
4. Learn to ask questions
5. Distinguish sense from nonsense
6. Accept change as inevitable
7. Admit mistakes
8. Say it simple
9. Be calm
10. Smile

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have 36 ideas, keep 1 good one?

There isn’t a fixed ratio between good features or ideas and ones that need editing or dropping. The ratio is bound to be worse than you would like to think at the time of creation. If 1 in 36 photographs are worth keeping, how many ideas are worth keeping?
Omit, then submit
What you leave out is often what turns good into great. What you leave out is the difference between something that is either 1) never seen or used or 2) simple, clear, and actually digestable. It’s true for photography. It’s true for features in software. And it’s true for plenty more too.”

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