Isn’t simple better?

A few months ago I met with a marketing person about a project I was considering. It was for a software program for a specific niche (neither the program nor the niche are important for this post). I knew that she had done a fair amount of work in this particular niche and wanted her feedback. Right away she told me to NOT do anything in this niche because the program used most often in this niche was amazing.

I asked what made it amazing and truly was amazed with the response I received. In no particular order they included the following:

The program is so complex a license costs as much as $25,000.
The program is so complex that it has many features that no one would ever use
The program is so complex that it takes 2 days of training to learn how to use it
The program is so complex that it usually requires hiring a database specialist just to be able to run reports

The more I heard the more I truly was amazed. Since when did complex become good? Why does a high price equate to true value? If something requires a great deal of training just to understand how to use it, why is that good? If, after 2 days of training a person can’t run a simple report, why is that considered acceptable?

To me, if it’s a computer program, the complexity should be in the programming. The end users should find the usability as easy as possible. If the end user can’t do something, or doesn’t understand how something works, that is an indicator of bad programming NOT something worth a lot of money.

The good news is this persons attempt at talking me out of pursuing this niche accomplished the exact opposite. She convinced me that if there is a way to make something easy to use, affordable and available to the general public, it’s worth doing. We are still a week or two away from launching but the criteria we have used for the features is “can a typical person start using this program WITH NO TRAINING and understand how to do it?” If the answer is yes, we do it. If the answer is no, we figure out how to make it easier.

Making things easier has made the programming more complex but the true purpose is to make things easier for the end user. Shouldn’t that always be the case?

When you do something for the public (whether it’s a software program, a registration process, a way to contact you etc) are you trying to make it easier for them? Or is it all about you?

Have a great day!

Lawrence

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