Innovation is Not Complexity

Great comment from Apple fanatic enthusiast John Gruber over at

”The utter simplicity of the iOS home screen is Apple’s innovation. It’s the simplest, most obvious “system” ever designed. It is a false and foolish but widespread misconception that “innovation” goes only in the direction of additional complexity.” John Gruber / Writer

It reminds me of another quote:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein / Theoretical Physicist

In our great rush to innovate and figure out the next “big thing” we can lose sight of one of the core tenants of good design: Elegant simplicity.

Particularly on the user interface and customer experience front, we (the design team) get too close to the product / service and have a hard time seeing it objectively. What makes sense to us (after spending so much time with the design), doesn’t necessarily make any sense at all to the people we’re trying to serve. It takes deliberate intention and hard work to get beyond the initial complexity to create intuitive and usable designs.

While we’re hitting all these quotes today, here’s another that comes to mind when thinking about this aspect of the design process:

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Mark Twain / Author and Humorist

Our continuing challenge is to push on towards the elegant simplicity on the far side of complexity so we can build truly useful and usable things.