Saturday, July 26, 2008

Designing a Stop Sign


This seemed like a good followup to Taruna's post on simple designs.

Need I say more... although I have a feeling it's not just the clients, we probably do this to our process too... and perhaps this is what the developers feel about getting reviews from SMEs, Reviewers and Editors...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Simple Designs - a myth or a reality?


At times, I use the white board at my workstation to scribble interesting quotes that appeal to me. A few weeks ago, I wrote this one:

"There are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies. And the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. (Charles Hoare)."

The quote led to an interesting discussion amongst the ones who read it. The curious question was – what is ‘simple’ design. I pondered for a while. I knew that simplicity was far complex than I thought. I wanted to understand what is means to have simplicity in content design, media design, functional design, web design, and any other design that we ought to do! So I started my journey to explore what is simple design…here is what I found on my way. An interesting definition.

This is an excerpt taken from an article titled, “Keep it simple, stupid!” by Pär Almqvist.

A Definition of Simplicity
What is simplicity? It could be defined as "the absence of unnecessary elements," or even shorter "the essence." Simplicity doesn't equal boring. Simplicity doesn't equal shallow. Simplicity is especially important when designing information- and media-rich interfaces. Simplicity isn't a design style, it's a perspective on design, an approach which often creates the most beautiful and the most usable results. A common mistake is to think that obtaining simplicity is a matter of reduction, of reducing something which is more complete than the "simple" end result. On the contrary, simplicity requires serious thought and effort. As I wrote in my article
Fragments of time; "A modern paradox is that it's simpler to create complex interfaces because it's so complex to simplify them."

How to Obtain Simplicity
Simplicity isn't easy to obtain. I have, however, roughly devised a formula that lays the foundation for simplicity. Albert Einstein said; "If A is to succeed in life, then A = x + y + z. Work is x, y is play and z is to listen.
"A functioning formula for simplicity (where A equals simplicity) could be A = x + y + z. x is good research and prototyping, y is play and z is the reduction of unnecessary elements.

In the above definition, the author reiterates that simplicity requires thought and effort. Another example to support this definition is here, where the author (Nika Smith) discusses the evolution of Gmail chat and specifically how the Gmail chat window was designed.

The author reiterates, “Often, the features we launch seem so simple that you might think they're the result of blatantly obvious design decisions. In fact, every feature is subjected to a healthy dose of scrutiny within the Gmail team, and usually that includes rapidly iterating on designs by collecting user feedback, learning what works and what doesn't, and improving on our work based on this knowledge.”

From what I gather, I believe simple designs:-
- appear intuitive and easy to make - but they take time to build
- involve multiple iterations of review and feedback
- are meant for the purpose (meet requirements)
- are naturally usable
- have more impact because they have less distractions

So, what does simplicity mean to you in the context of design?

Are simple designs better than complex ones? Do our users appreciate simplicity? Is simplicity the need and the reality of the day?


Is simplicity simply an overrated aspect of design? Does simple sell or do our users want more features? Is simplicity a myth?

What do you think?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What's Your Reason?


From: Biocultural Science & Management

Monday, July 14, 2008

Century on eCube Facebook Group


eCube Facebook group membership is now 102 strong. This networked community has members from India, USA, UK, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Czech Republic. The community collectively provides experience in instructional design, training, competency development, media, technology, project management, sales, HR, and business management. There are clients, vendors and consultants in the community. I encourage you to tap into this very rich and experienced community.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Poll Archives


Until I figure out a way to archive Google Polls, here's a page that I will update regularly with poll archives. A link to this page will be available on the top links bar.

Jun 2008

Annual Review and Appraisal means

Raise in Salary

1 (12%)

Role Change

2 (25%)

Revisiting a Formality

2 (25%)

Redefining KRAs

3 (37%)

Votes so far: 8
Poll closed

May 2008

To create an effective training material, understanding content is as important as design strategy


43 (91%)


4 (8%)

Can't say

0 (0%)

Votes so far: 47
Poll closed

April 2008

Most useful features on eCube?

Blog rolls

2 (50%)

eCube Ponder

1 (25%)


0 (0%)

Live chat/messages

0 (0%)

Most Popular Posts

2 (50%)

Recent comments

1 (25%)

Recommended reading

2 (50%)

Votes so far: 4
Poll closed

Mar 2008

How does eCube help you?

Helps connect with peers

0 (0%)

Provides relevant info about the industry

1 (10%)

Provides an opportunity to learn through reflection

9 (90%)

It’s just another site, no impact on me

0 (0%)

Votes so far: 10
Poll closed

New Look at eCube


eCube now has a new look and feel. I wanted something bright and refreshing. I used the WP-Polaroid for Blogger template that I downloaded from eblog templates. It took more time than I expected but in the process I created a blog template upgrade checklist. I realized that there is too much code (analytics, tracking, label customization etc.) that is embedded that needs to be ported to the new template code. And the widgets got all messed up in the new template so I had to create many widgets all over again. Getting the author name was a challenge and I still don’t have the post date (only post time is visible).

There is still some fine tuning to be done over the next few days. I still don’t know how to automatically archive the Blogger poll widgets (so bear with them on the side bars). And the Outbrain rating stars still don’t appear on the posts. And post contributors will need to log on to their Blogger Dashboard to be able to create a new post on the blog till I figure out how to get back the top Blogger navigation bar.

Like it, hate it, have suggestions for improvement? Do post your comments on the new interface. There is also a new poll about the interface. Do drop by and provide your feedback.


Suggested Reading


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