I’ve always been a massive advocate of ‘KISS’ – Not the grease-paint laden 1970s glam rock band (although I do own a few dozen of their albums and sport their band logo on my arm!) – the concept of ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’.
In my opinion, one of the most important factors in designing and building software is to ensure that the user interface, and the concepts behind the software itself, are kept as simple and intuitive as possible.
There’s no point in implementing a killer feature if that feature is too complex and too difficult to actually configure and maintain as it may result in confused end-users and, inevitably, a redundant piece of functionality.
On the other hand, by reducing the complexity of a particular piece of functionality too much, software vendors run the risk of making that particular feature totally inflexible and to some extent of little to no use to the end-user at all!
Therefore, there has to be a balance between simplicity and flexibility.
A good product needs to be designed well, proven to work and simple to understand. Take the rock group KISS as an example. They started way back in the early 70’s with a lead guitarist, a bass player, lead vocalist and a drummer. Add some make-up and a track list of great songs and a global brand was instantly created. The concept was simple.
Start tampering with a working formula and things start to go wrong. Change the appearance (i.e. remove the make-up) and the ‘product’ becomes misunderstood. Start making things more complex and consumers become disillusioned.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
AppSense Environment Manager can be seen as a complex product. It can be used in a variety of ways to solve a variety of different environment problems.
So, have AppSense delivered on the concept of ‘KISS’ with Environment Manager? Have we provided a killer product that is simple to understand, yet flexible and compelling? Maybe, maybe not. There is always room for improvement. However, improvement must not come at a cost to the consumer.
Our next product release, currently scheduled for Q1 2010, aims to introduce improvements to the way the software is currently configured and maintained, without adding unecessary complexity or introducing the risk of ‘breaking something that used to work’.
So, ‘Keeping It Simple, Stupid’ is, ironically, not a simple task. However, by adopting the concept, it may save you many ‘Crazy, Crazy Nights’ trying to put things right in the future.