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Notes from Simple and Usable book

Some time ago I read Simple and Usable book. It’s very short, but to the point. This weekend I stumbled upon the notes I had made so I decided to share them with everyone.

About people

  • People love simple, dependable, adaptable products.
  • Increasing complexity is unsustainable.
  • Get out of your office; the best place to watch users is in their natural environment.
  • Three types of users: experts, willing adopters, mainstreamers. Ignore experts, design for the mainstream.
  • Mainstreamers want: getting the job done, ease of control (as opposed to the precision of control), reliable results, no fear of breaking something, good match, examples and stories.
  • Emotional needs are important.
  • Simplicity is about control.
  • Focus on the main action and describe it as the user sees it (user stories).

There are four strategies for simplifying:


  • “Kill lame features. Broken gets fixed, but shoddy lasts forever.” ~ Jack Moffett
  • Remove words, simplify sentences.
  • Lessen (information) load, isolate from distractions, remove sources of errors; every error breaks the concentration and makes the experience feel more complex.


  • Clear boundaries between groups.
  • Grids.
  • Size and location.
  • Layers.
  • Color coding.


  • Infrequent but necessary.
  • Progressive disclosure: show simple, and complex if requested.
  • NYT online edition shows a question mark icon when you select a word with a dictionary reference. Hide something completely, and reveal only when needed.
  • Locus of attention - the area of the screen that the user is concentrated on.


  • Mobile vs desktop, user vs computer
  • Conservation of complexity: sometimes the complexity cannot be reduced, only moved to another place.

If you like these notes, read the book, it’s worth it.

Don’t miss this one:
Windays - UX and Design

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