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More vs. Less: How to win the constant struggle in user experience design?
Ahead of his time, Leonardo da Vinci stated: “Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication”. Do you also use this principle in your work? If yes, then you’re reading the right newsletter!
There was a time when “more was better”. The concept of “horror vacui”, which means fear of emptiness, captured this feeling. Evidence of this age-old fear is visible throughout history. For example in busy, element-saturated works of past painters and sculptors but also in the works of architects and interior designers. The Victorian, Georgian, and Baroque eras were periods in which affluence was shown through abundance.
We’re now on the other side of the spectrum. We live in an era where “less is more” and where uncluttered and minimalist designs are proof of good taste and luxury. This is why, as a designer, you need to be equipped with an arsenal of tools and principles to combat your “horror vacui”. In this newsletter, we have selected some of them for you:
Form follows function
Are you at the conceptualization phase? Then our advice is focus on the “function” of the product or service. Ask yourself: “Which are the features that will really solve my users’ pain points and needs?” Only afterwards, move to the form design and decide how to use our bias to attractiveness to maximum effect.
Do you already know the functions of your app/design/website/etc. but see that there are too many of them? Maybe your Post-its wall looks like the one on the image below? Then you can apply “Occam’s Razor”. It is a problem-solving principle devised in the 14thCentury that states that simplicity is better than complexity.
Having trouble prioritizing? Recall the Pareto principle to define the implementation order: 80% of users only use 20% of a product’s given features. Leave out the non-essential or nice-to-have functionalities and focus on your product or service core.
Ready to move into the design of the information architecture? Hick’s Law is your friend: it states that the more stimuli (or choices) users face, the longer it will take them to make a decision. Your interface should focus on the essential options that are relevant to your business and users’ goals.
When you move into user interface design, the most intuitive and natural recourse is to apply the opposite of clutter: whitespace. You can make your designs more accessible, more user-friendly, and more valuable by using whitespace. Negative space has a huge positive force!
Despite all this, sometimes the fear of emptiness kicks in again! Get your arsenal ready and win the “more or less” battle by applying the most appropriate tool for your project!