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Ted Goas

Simon, just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed reading your angle on complexity in web apps. I’ve also been working on a rather complex app and arriving at some of the same conclusions. You’ve done a wonderful job at putting it into words.

The app I’m working on is for clinical and medical trials. Tons of data, numerous admin privileges, several suites of tools, and what I thought were a few cluttered chunks of UI. When first designing each screen, I often asked if menu options or features could be removed to make everything simpler. But usually I was told these extra features needed to be there, even if they weren’t used by everyone. So the features stayed.

I’m very happy with how the app is shaping up, but I’d be lying if I didn’t open my browser every morning and think about removing pieces of the interface.

Yesterday we did our first round of real user testing. During the process, I frequently cringed as certain screens were brought up on screen, fearing subjects would be lost amidst a sea of options. But much to my surprise, the testing went quite smoothly. Users found most most of the navigation intuitive and completed tasks rather easily. We kept our eye on simplicity when building this app, and it was nice to see that it looks as though we found a good balance between complexity and clarity.

I realize that “less is more” or “less is less, which means more” are popular schools of thought, but whenever that’s not appropriate, I can always look back to articles like this. Cheers!