A couple of days ago I came across a great quote from Dieter Rams:

“Good design is as little design as possible. Less, but better — because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.”

Designing a powerful app and keeping it simple at the same time is a hard task. Use cases, features, flows & interaction patterns add in to possibly turn your experience into a mess. But as designers & app makers, what can we do?

The answer sounds, well, simple: keep it simple.

Easier said than done though. Once you are sitting in front of a 10-pager spec sheet there is just no way in hell you can design something simple right? Turns out you can. You always can.

6 things to keep it simple

1. Cut out all ‘nice to haves’ from the spec sheet
2. Cut out all non-essentials from the spec sheet
3. Stick to a simple color palette
4. You don’t need flashy gradients, shadows, images, etc.
5. Stick to known interaction patterns and interface elements
6. Don’t burden the screen, stick to one interaction per screen

If you’re constantly adding in elements to make your app stand out, you’re not solving a problem, you’re just building an app for your portfolio.

A few of great examples

Mailchimp — The powerful email & campaign app has hundreds of features yet they keep it super simple to use, uncluttered and fully responsive.

Treehouse — the tech online learning website has hundreds of courses, a large community and thousands of downloadable documents. Yet, the keep it simple. The interface is straight forward, no learning curve and they keep you focused on one thing at a time.

KISS

There’s a reason why Apple products sell massively: they keep it simple stupid. The Kiss princple coned by the US Navy back in the 60’s still stands true: avoid complexity to build a better product.

Have you used any over complex, horrible app recently? Let’s break them down below!