A little antsy this morning I know, but I hit the frikkin tipping point.. actually I’ve reached it many many times in the past, but here I am again… looking at yet another website that’s trying to explain what it does and why I should care, and failing.

I don’t remember how I ended up on the site, but I did what every person does when encountering a new site, service or app – you subconsciously ask yourself “What is this thing about and why should I care?” 5 seconds that’s all it gets. Ok sometimes maybe 30 seconds or longer depending on your level of patience, but that was not me this morning.

You have 5 seconds to answer — What is this thing and why should I care?

Designers! please, please take note of this age old customer mantra when designing consumer facing products: “Don’t make me think!

Business folks! please take note also. Designers can’t do their job if customer obsession and simplicity is not a top down cultural initiative entrenched in your organization and a top business priority that you actually prioritize around (double emphasis on “prioritize” intended). Please make it a thing that you not just like to say you do, but actually do.

Take action now. Do this… look at your apps/sites/marketing messages and ask…

What can I remove? (not re-write but remove).

What am I trying to say with this image or line of text?

Do I say it more than once on the same or successive screens/pages?

Who am I speaking to?

Why should they care?

Rinse and repeat. Multiple rounds needed for simplicity to start emerging. It’s hard.

My early startup design days at amazon (‘98-’04) solidified this one thing above all: Customer Obsession. Jeff Bezos used the term and would point at an empty chair around a table when intelligent discussion dragged on too long, and would say something like “find out what that person thinks” — the customer.

Customer Obsession = putting yourself in your customers shoes, thinking from their perspective and delighting the crap out of them by understanding their needs and by giving them what they really want, not what you think they want. Often confused.

Customer Obsession = prioritizing qualitative data (what your customers think, feel and consider important) not only quantitative data (how many people did this or that).

Call it what you like, UX (User Experience), Product Design, I don’t care but please just do it.

This will help save a lot of people a lot of time. The average American now spends 24 hours a week online (up from 9 hours in 2000) according to MIT article reference. Multiply this by users per country, etc… there’s a lot of time being wasted online because of bad design.

You can make a huge positive impact on people lives by saving them a lot of time.


Simplify, simplify, simplify… now was originally published in UX Collective on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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