My thoughts on reading The Beauty of Simplicity on FastCompany.
Why do so many businesses just get it so wrong?
The business itself lacks a cause, the reason for being. And therefore lacks focus.
If a business does not know what it is truly about, it will act in an undirected, chaotic way. No surprise the website reflects this. Most businesses don't know what they are really about beyond the selling of something and the making of money. Couple this with cheap is good approach to design means a highly blinkered approach to usability.
Everything (that could conceivably lead to sales) is equally important.
Everything must appear on every page, and especially the homepage. Just in case someone misses something. Everything must be big. Everything must be Flash-animated to "attract attention".
The indiscriminate and inappropriate use of often simplistic tools, which in themselves cause more damage than good.
Quick-fix solutions such as search engine optimisation, the over- and inappropriate use of Flash, and saturation advertising actually work against simplicity for the customer. The result is usually more noise and annoyance.
Google would have no doubt received countless "suggestions" from well meaning graphic designers to Flashify their homepage - just because!
Featuritis is rife.
When a business engages in prices wars and feature-comparison to attempt to stand out (to hopefully sell more), it is inevitable that it would fall into the featuritis trap. Add more stuff. More features. More hype. Louder graphics. Faster animations. Better discounts displayed more prominently... Simplicity goes out the window quick smart.
Question of the hour: Are consumers really demanding more and more features (ok - who can think of 5 brand new features we desperately need in Word)? Or do producers kid themselves into thinking so because they don't know any other way to stand out and be different?
Simplicity is not easy to do. And most businesses do choose the take the easy, short-term oriented way out.