Sunday, 31 October 2004

Economist on simplicity in technology

This week's Economist has a special on designing for simplicity. It's described in terms a business manager can understand, with a few strained metaphors such as the journey of a byte from disk to user, but the point it raises is a good one.

I worry when I hear people say that simplicity is the way to go in the future, with the not-very-subtly-hidden subtext that all we have to do is get rid of layers of technology and complexity, and a simple interface will magically present itself.

The set of articles in the Economist uses the examples of cars and telephone networks to show that making things simple to use is actually very difficult, and could well require more layers of complexity to provide the interoperability and intuitive interface that we need if we are going to make sense of the changing world of technology in the next decade or so.