Simplicity

What can we learn about usability…

Simplicity


Matt Taylor Says:

That looks very familiar.

Dennis S Says:

Ouch…

Smitty Says:

Have you been stealing our apps, again? I especially like the the archaic symbols in the multi-select box on the right hand side. Of course, you’re still missing home fax, business fax, and cell phone 8^).

Paul Blessing Says:

The only thing missing in my opinion is a bunch of tabs. I also really like the “OKAY” button.

Eric Burke Says:

I’m glad someone noticed “OKAY”. That was on purpose. I think some scroll panes are definitely in order.

Jimmy L Says:

You should add a Microsoft product in there too!

If you’re a drudge fan: drudgetracker.com

andymurd Says:

That’s getting forwarded to my managers first thing in the morning – beautifully succinct.

ApplesAndOranges Says:

I call bullshit.

What apple wants: queen – bohemian rapsidy (choose from a pre-populated list)
What google wants: brittany spears upskirt (a search phrase – any search phrase)
What your companies app wants: full tax details as required by the government so we tax you the correct amount.

If your app wanted something as simple as google (a none specific set of words) you’d only have one input box and a button too.

Steve Bennett Says:

Kind of agree with ApplesAndOranges. Your company’s app is probably industry specific and will be used by a smallish number of people for hundreds or thousands of hours to do their job. Power, flexibility and efficiency become far more important than intuitiveness, beauty and user-friendliness. If a user has to spend 3 hours learning the product then uses it every day for the next year, it’s not a big deal.

xau Says:

so true. so sad.

I think there some valid points about comparing apples to oranges.

Even so, I think this is a reasonable comparison for several reasons:* The actual third app screen is considerably easier than what I’ve seen, which is eluded to in many of the comments.
* Something that companies often miss (or are just unable to do) is remove unnecessary crap, Apple is quite good at doing very sophisticated things but really chopping off stuff to make it easier to use
* Business applications are often filled with incidental complexity instead of required complexity
* …

I don’t agree with Steve Bennett when he writes “If a user has to spend 3 hours…”, it’s not three hours, it’s three years, which is a big deal. It wastes time. It is not always possible to simplify given actual constraints (legal compliance). However, most such “constraints” are misunderstood rumors that are perpetuated and not questioned.

So While I agree that comparing something like the iPhone to some business app is unfair, I think the point still stands. Most business applications are badly designed, implement bad business processes, have a lot of waste and in general make like miserable to both the users of the system and the people they represent (inward and outward facing).

ccchai Says:

Trackback from – Usability in UI design – What is the best practice? ( http://impressionsoft.blogspot.com/2008/03/usability-in-ui-design-what-is-best.html )

Eric Burke Says:

Comics are not literal statements of fact. I can’t believe I have to say that. OH MY GOD! HE SHOWED ONLY ONE BUTTON! THAT IS SO UNFAIR! HE THINKS HE CAN CODE A COMPLEX BUSINESS APP WITH ONE TEXT FIELD! ERIC BURKE IS WRONG! APPLE PRODUCTS HAVE MORE THAN ONE BUTTON! WHY AREN’T HIS COMICS MORE ACCURATE???

Giulio Says:

Simply… great!!!
:-D

Tom Klaasen Says:

@ApplesAndOranges: If your typically company would want to implement a search, I can guarantee you that they won’t do it with one box. Just look at the Excites and Altavistas of the late 90s: you had to compose your query with comboboxes containing “and” and “or” and the like.

@Eric Burke: Thanks for the laugh!

kL Says:

And that’s the problem. Your company’s app designers will give up at the “we need all this data, so we need to ask all this info”.
Usually, you don’t. You can look up/generate/guess a lot of information. You can use sane defaults. You can drop less needed features where effort > benefit.

RealismNotComics Says:

Wow. So Google and Apple are the only ones who’ve been able to find smart designers. What a tragedy for me that I’ve been left to muck about at the bottom with the designers who are too stupid to figure out how to do things simply, even with all the brilliant consultants (and cartoonists) constantly reminding them how to do it.

Sorry, Eric. Your cartoon is a cliche, first of all. And secondly, the appropriate comparison would have been Yahoo and Microsoft. I’m with ApplesAndOranges.

And your capitalized reply to criticism tells me that you’re also fairly sensitive; I would suggest then that you don’t expose your work to the public.

Eric Burke Says:

The caps are a parody of people getting bent out of shape about a comic. Sigh.

Matt Says:

What’s that word? We used to make ‘em all the time back in the day? Something like yoke but harder – JOKE! That’s it. When the hell did the internet start taking itself so seriously? Take a joke, give a laugh. It really is that simple. You don’t have to do an in depth analysis of Eric Burke’s fair and equitable treatment of all business and commercial apps ever produced. Good lord people.

Matt Says:

Dear Internet,
We used to have such a fun relationship. You would show me a picture of a fat guy in a motorized wheelchair pulling through the drive-thru doughnut shop. We would chuckle. You would give me multiple videos of men getting hit in the crotch by their sons with various objects. We would laugh. We would sometimes even cry thinking of our own twig and berries having an apple or an orange hurled in their direction. Then, instead of those apples and oranges you gave me the kind that attempts to break down a relatively clever internet comic into a failed productivity analysis of imaginary software. Where did you go so wrong? Did you simply grow up and lose all your giggles? I understand that we’ve all had a little piece of our soul killed by cats with bad grammar and poor sentence structure. I certainly know the trauma to our lighter side caused by the abomination known as Goatse. Don’t we still have a little bit of humor left in us though? Let’s try to find some more barely clever letters written in the 1st person towards some inanimate entity and have a giggle. I miss you fun internet. Come back please.

Your formerly pleased and entertained partner,
ME

David Snow Says:

When I used to be a reliability engineer for a Fortune 100 Computer Maker, my boss once tole me “The price of reliability is simplicity, and for many engineers that is too high a price to pay.”

It appears to apply to software and life as well.

/DaveS

Rob Says:

Some of you are way too uptight. Its a freakin’ comic people! I think the author has license to take it whatever direction he wants.

Oh too true! Some of the most simple things are complex to have been made that way. The truly complex things that don’t work were made by …Microsoft (and most of the time, with faulty code).

Mike Moscheck Says:

Great comic, but I have to admit some of the comments are even funnier!! Hit a nerve Erik?

Max Says:

A voice of sanity. All these Getting started, Terms of use, …

Paul Says:

As I have said for so many years. Most of the systems I see now have been Improved Beyond Use.. I coined the phrase while I was working at the Supercomputer Center at Ames Research in Mountain View, way back in the ’90’s. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t find I can use this towards either a car or computer or some other technical device. Think about it – I bet there was something just today that you could say was “Improved Beyond Use”. Use it, make it part of everyday speech. Please try it and see what kind of response you get. Ah, I see this system’s been Improved Beyond Use!! Enjoy –

Max Says:

It’s sort of like a business suite and tie, – useless, hot, unpractical, but looks professional.

The majority of corporate sites are like this. If it is simple, useful, and understandable, then the MBAs in web design companies begin bombarding the senior management with suggestions to invest and to make it look “professional”.

Some photos of smiling people, legal and marketing blur, moving useful features and information into a narrow obscure area, and voila, gone “professional”.

J S Says:

Simplicity is hard.
That’s why it’s rare to actually find it.

It’s not just software design but industrial product design (hardware) and manufacturing systems. I take cost out of manufacturing systems all the time via “simplicity” or “Lean/Agile Manufacturing” as it’s regularly called.

Note: I’ve also seen where the third cartoon screen is modified to look like the Apple/Google system by having screen layers… one question per page but it asks all the same unimportant questions by the time you’re twenty screens deep in it.

Or requires you to create an account or respond to an email to post… I’ll check this site out shortly…. here’s hoping : )

J

Wow Says:

Wooooooooow.

Hahahahaha. Very good. Things are complicated because we make them look like that. Congratulations! Great pictures!!

wenselao Says:

Joojojoj Excelente. La simplicidad de las cosas genera mucho millones.

CJ Says:

Hey, I like it – and I design these apps for my Fortune 50 employer. Sure there are reasons why they are like they are but frequently they aren’t really valid reasons…rather we have to give in to politics at the expense of good design principles or clear data handling. It’s frustrating, but it’s how it is.

Alex Miller Says:

I tried to press the OKAY button but nothing happened! Eric, your app doesn’t work. How dare you put a broken example application on the web! I couldn’t even get your Google interface to work – how could you screw up a simple text field?

TookMeAMinute Says:

It’s funny how RealismNotComics snaps at you for insulting his mucking around in a design firm and then tells you you are too sensitive for the internet. People who give free advice are… oh wait that is a cliche too.

Anyway at first I did think it was an unfair comparison because that could be a data-input screen. Actually it could be my data input screen that I recently created, only simpler. I like how the buttons seem to have multiplied, some of them mis-begotten offspring of earlier ill-conceived buttons. I can imagine clicking Undo and getting a pop-up, “Are you sure you want to undo? Yes/No/Cancel”.

Pounding out all the extra buttons and trimming the fat with Ocham’s razor is a lot of hard work. It took me a minute to realize that the reason so many of us have switched to Google is because even with their reduced interface and semantics they give better results than Alta Vista’s “Britteny upskirt -panties” (to use applesandoranges example). They do the work on the back end so we don’t have to do the work on the front end. And they are friends of Ocham.

Mike Says:

“For every pound of jest there is an ounce of truth”.

I’m with ApplesAndOranges. This post is “ha-ha only serious”, so why shouldn’t it cause discussion? It’s interesting that when people say “LOL, yeah, I’m with you”, there’s no response of “hey, it’s a comic — nothing to agree with here”. But when someone takes issue with the comparison being made, the response is “hey, it’s a comic, idiot!”.

The comic indeed raises a valid and interesting question, which is “how simple can we make our app, and still implement the business requirements within the constraints of time and budget?”. I work in a 401k recordkeeping system. We have to gather hundreds, if not thousands, of data elements from our users over time. We simply can’t design a one-button (or 100 button) system. We can, however, strive to simplify as much as possible. We fail often, I fear.

Ståle Hansen Says:

This demonstrates very well why I never would buy anything produced by Apple. “One size fits all” actually never does…

Smitty Says:

@Alex The okay button doesn’t work because Eric missed the 9:00 Patterns Revisited discussion and used a non-thread-safe Singleton 8^). Fortunately, the dialog is a modal pop-up so the IRS will get first crack at my paycheck!

I actually think it’s cool that an actual discussion about decent usability might get started from this comic. That someone might learn that we should try to make our dialogs as simple as possible is truly a good thing. However, if anyone takes this comic more seriously than the smile of how bad it can get, to the frown from how bad it has become, is really missing the point.

Oh, and I wanted to throw out a “Hey” to Code for Joy for giving me a bumper sticker! Thanks!

hahaha! I’m laughing my butt off here :)

(although, i’m missing the slightly rounded corners and the glossy mirror effect on the apple picture :)

Steve Bennett Says:

1. Blogger posts a thought-provoking comic.
2. Readers discuss thought-provoking comic.
3. Blogger responds HOW DARE YOUR THOUGHTS BE PROVOKED BY MY THOUGHT-PROVOKING COMIC ITS A JOKE LIGHTEN UP PPLZ!!!

Wtf?

Steve Bennett Says:

4. Blogger responds with more thoughtful discussion.

(sorry, missed that the first time.) :)

hulk hogan Says:

the comic was funny

90% of the comments here are retarded

the rule is:

if you laugh, you understand.

if you moan and nit pick, you will most likely be the one actually making example 3 thinking it’s great.

Matt Says:

My favorite part are the parts highlighted by color for no apparent reason. It makes me think of, as another poster above stated, ideas in the programmers head that were ultimately thrown away but never completely abandoned – like the darkened were originally going to be optional and the fuschia were to be required but were given up in the testing process.

A fatal flaw of programs and programming in a business environment, many times, is the time constraint. There is so much push to get the product compiled and working that not enough time or thought goes into overall look and feel past the initial design phase. There is barely ever any time for what comes after the ellipsis: “Okay, it compiles and works, and everything that we need is in there… now how does it look? Is it intuitive?”

David Says:

Realistic and insightful!! I still laughs!

Lance Wicks Says:

Excellent!
So true, too true, too painful!

Prasi Says:

The ‘Cancel’ button is missing!

Rolf Says:

And how looks a form with First Name, Last Name, Phone1, Phone2 … fields on a Google or Apple page?
I can not compare a search application (Google), where I only need one field for the search string
with an application in which I should enter a complete address.

bsod Says:

Prasi, this is by design ;)

The truth, it burns.

Thierry Says:

Eric’s comic is a perfect illustration of an insightful quote of Antoine de Saint-Exupery (famous French writer, 1900 – 1944) stating that “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. It should be established as the first engineering principle taught to the designers and creators, as it applies to any human creative activity, including of course GUI design as well as program and system design.

The most sophisticated and expensive Ferrari can still be driven just using 1 simple wheel, 1 gear shift and 3 pedals! Correct ?

Matthew Brown Says:

Interface is hard. Simplicity is hard. Corporate apps have captive users who can’t use another app like they can use another search site or product. Corporate apps are specified, approved and paid for by people who never use them. Corporate apps are developed by people who are so over-stretched that anything beyond ‘adequate’ is impossible.

Frank Hamm Says:

Very impressive. Very cool of you to hide the fact, that “OKAY” triggers a workflow that involves at least a dozen departments.

RappaNui Says:

Nah … mixing functions, eh ? One is a midia player, another is a search engine, anothe is data entry, that’s an unfair comparison … but it’s funny … :-) .

Charlie Says:

I think it’s a fair comparison, and a funny comic.

As Matthew Brown, and J S, and others state, it’s hard to do UI well. It’s not that your companies app is more difficult than Google (as if, come on man, you really think that?). No, rather, it’s that Google did a better job at simplifying the interface than you did. (It’s true that the Google home page only returns output, and has one input, but they have many other apps that don’t suck too, remember Maps, which revolutionized the web, and Gmail – they don’t have one input like the comic of course, but they aren’t overbaked either.)

It reminds me of an old quote attributed variously to Voltaire or Twain or Shaw: “Sorry for the long note, I didn’t have time to write a short one.” Being concise, that is short but *still capturing* what you need to capture, is indeed difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.

And the picture in this comic is not that far off from many of the corporate apps I have seen, or even worked on (most of which came down the pike with supposed “requirements” in a Word document that laid out the 100 controls per task).

Jack Says:

“I can not compare a search application (Google), where I only need one field for the search string
with an application in which I should enter a complete address.”

Actually, yes you can make that comparison. Try typing an address into the ONE field at Google and see what happens – that is EXACTLY the point.

nhavar Says:

Dangit Smitty, stop talking about company secrets. Next you’ll be running off at the mouth about how they left off billing, shipping, secondary, temporary, and at risk addresses. You’re such a blabber mouth.

It’s a very valid critique and reminds me of the Ok-cancel strip about a toothbrush http://www.ok-cancel.com/comic/90.html

No it’s not an apples to apples comparison until you break it down to it’s simplest form. Both Apple and Google broke down the concepts of the interface into simple actions, complete one simple task at a time and no more. Most corporate apps try to shoehorn in everyone’s tasks, create “at a glance” interfaces.

You have a CRM – what do you want to do with it? One group says sales and another says support. The two needs are different but you don’t want to build two interfaces so you build one that has everything that both groups need on it. Half the time the user uses 1/4 of what’s provided. Instead if things are broken down into discrete tasks you can identify commonalities and divergence and tailor the interface to it’s simplest form. More complex interfaces are eliminated or relegated to some rarely used portion of the app where it belongs.

Again in a CRM the most common thing you are going to do is very simple – find someone. Why does it have to be hard? Use one field, type in everything you know about the person and hit submit. Magic happens and a simple list of results is returned and based off 1 or 2 pieces of that data you pick the person on move to the next simple task. I’m not sure why we feel the need to add a ton of complexity.

nhavar Says:

Holy cow did I seriously leave the longest comment in the world on this. I really need to get out of this job.

Misósofos Says:

Loved it.

Nathaniel Says:

If your first reaction to this comic (and particularly if you took umbrage enough to post a reply WRITING that reaction) is “but my app is complex, so it HAS to have a complex interface”, then YOU are exactly the problem being illustrated.

Complexity of data does not inherently require complexity in interface. There is no direct correlation between those two things at all. You need to stop convincing yourself that bad UI design is necessary for any amount or format of data.

OwlBoy Says:

As someone who has had to use such apps, I find this hilarious.

Rip Ragged Says:

I laughed. I cried. I ate a handful of cashews. The best part is people getting pissed at a cartoon. I mean it isn’t like you posted a picture of Osama Bin Ballmer against a BSOD or something blasphemous. I use crappy Oracle runtimes at work that look EXACTLY like the third app.

Bravo.

Carpdo Says:

what Rob said

Brian Says:

That third app is so ugly it’s beautiful. I love all the little jargony abbreviations (type cd?) and especially the fact that “ord #” is followed by three unlabeled radio buttons and a question mark. Just imagine how poorly designed and labeled the underlying database must be. *cringe*

@Charlie:

“I have made this longer only because I did not have the leisure to make it shorter” –Pascal, Letters Provinciales, XVI, as quoted in LETTERS by John Barth, p. 50. (A book. Now there’s a simple interface.) :-)

Paul Says:

I love this because I’m maintaining a similar application to #3. My excuse when people complain about it that I’ve didn’t design it or build the first version … I’m only fixing the reported bugs, and there’re a lot of them.

However, I’m using the opportunity given by bug fixing to remove the most egregious complexity (”Why did you take out this option?” “Because it was causing bug #12456. There was no way to fix it without rewriting the db access lay totally. But you can do that from this other menu.” “Oh, that makes more sense.”).

Something else giving an impression of complexity and clutter was a hierarchical menu structure where each option had an icon, but there were only two kinds of option – go deeper into the tree or select an action to perform and hence only two different icons. Very Linuxy. I removed the icons.

Epistax Says:

Good stuff. It’s funny, and true to and extent. As for comparing apples to oranges, they are both food and fruit, so it’s pretty damn easy. I like oranges more, though that’s not to say I never want to see an apple again.

I luckily don’t have to use the kind of interface shown in #3 too often, but it’s still something that infuriates me. Most of the information required is redundant (name, account number, id, ssn?), and there are too many actions to be taken at this point. Maybe THAT is the heart of the complication. If you have a huge form to fill out, there better only be one or two options when done. Don’t have two forms on the same form! (new/del capability for the form on the right?)

I will also distribute this at work. Kudos!

Gordon Says:

I work with a prime example of #3. It really is hell. We could probably run the operation with the calendar app on my iPhone.

The app has all the different possible operations/logistics/accounting on one page with about a zillion tabs and many, many unlabeled buttons for hidden features. Truly a headache inducing nightmare to use.

Pusstoolio Says:

Eric, thanks for the great comic.
Screw the haters!

Burp Says:

Google feeds off the input of other applications. The comic is comical.

Nick Says:

The comparison may not be tit for tat, but I think it makes a great point. We are flooded with poorly designed interfaces everywhere we go, from proprietary business apps to websites. There really is no excuse to have apps that look like #3. You need lots of information and a lot of options in order to maintain an accurate and efficient database? Maybe the database is the problem and it’s unfortunate that the app reflects that, but if the database is *not* the problem, then it behooves the designers to create a more streamlined and efficient application.

winden Says:

You made me cry, I used to make 3rd type apps!

This is so going up on the wall at work :-)

Rebecca Kidd Says:

simply too true.

Michael Zed Says:

Those who say the comparison is unfair are missing the point. They can’t envision a flow of user interaction which precludes the need to build example no. 3. To them, interface design consists of translating the data model directly into a series of corresponding user controls, arranged on a series of dialogue boxes (and let’s not leave any wasted space on the screen!). Panel no. 3 also speaks of a corporate culture which assumes that certification in coding .net is a suitable qualification for designing user interaction (and possibly for copy-editing and graphic design too).

But nos. 2 and 3 are pretty closely comparable. When you read Google’s help, you will see just how much you can do with that one field: search for phrases, restricted to a website, date, or language, search geographically, perform calculations and unit conversion, boolean search, etc, etc. Many programmers would build Google’s advanced search page (and then some), omitting all of the back-end smarts, and be proud of how much “choice” they have given the user.

The cartoon is perfect, but I am so tempted to suggest another panel between 2 and 3: “Typical Microsoft Product”. It has a “user-friendly Wizard interface”, performing a single irreversible and potentially destructive function, asking three questions in nine panels. Panels with yes/no questions for the user should have exactly one or three possible responses, and calls to action should have “yes” and “no” buttons. At least one panel threatens to discard user input using all of “no”, “cancel”, and a close box. Bonus points for a progress bar indicating that an installation is reading data from a disk which was never available.

[Yikes, i thought that captcha was an ad]

ilene Says:

Wow… all this for a comic?

Methinks folks need to go outside more.

Phew…

Walker Says:

If this isn’t a clearer example of “product relativity” then I’m going outside to find one! Someone said the comments are the best part… I agree…

Ha ha. Anyone else notice the TWO delete buttons?

Jim Cook Says:

Ouch. You’ve obviously worked for a bank before.

Harvard Irving Says:

The most hilarious thing about this strip (apart from the angry comments) is that when I viewed it, there was an ad for “www.optimalsort.com” just below the last panel. I was a little confused, at first thinking it might be a continuation of the comic. So, I rolled over the image, revealing that it was a Google ad.

For those who got a different ad, it’s for “online card sorting” that is supposedly “easy, fast and free.” The ad is a screenshot, and it looks almost exactly like application #3 in the comic strip. It looks confusing, convoluted, and cryptic.

Bob Jones Says:

Needs some tab controls.

MetaBlogger Says:

I work for a Fortune(-50) company. This fact alone makes my dong orders of magnitude larger than that of everyone else here. I also invented the computer while working in silicon valley in the 1890’s, so I’ve seen it all before all you clowns came along. Also, my point is obscured by my egotism and put-downs. Divide that by zero, l0s3rZ. You gotz PwN3D!

D2 Says:

É Isso aí!!

Steven Says:

Eric,

I cannot believe how many of these folks absolutely cannot take, or don’t even get, a joke (ApplesAndOranges? RealismNotComics?) or the commentary behind the joke. I have a suggestion for you two: look up “satire” in the dictionary. Then go to the library and pick out some works by Swift (”A Modest Proposal” would work, or even “Gulliver’s Travels”). Now you must do this in order – Swift will not make sense to you if you skip the dictionary step. Come back and let us know what you think then.

Eric, I feel the pain in your “sigh.”

bloger Says:

very funny. i will put this on my blog also.

Stine Says:

Looks familiar :-)
In my company we have this useless product called Netwise. It is kind of a advanced phonebook/company planning device. You are supposed to be able to search for your colleagues by name and see their calendar (which you usually don’t).

For this to work, it demans that you type in a ’space’ BEFORE the name you search for – but ONLY IF it’s a given name. If it’s a familiy name then it won’t work WITH the ’space’ in front.

This application’s uncomprehensible craving for a ’space’ is not mentioned anywhere, you are just supposed to know this. :-)

Anonymous Says:

I disagree with Apples and Oranges. I worked with a company that had to sell something very simple — conference registrations. Instead of taking just name, address, e-mail, and credit card number before the customer changed his/her mind, they made the user click through three pages of forms much worse than the one in the cartoon, asking for all kinds of information for their own internal marketing. Error reporting was lousy, so many people couldn’t make it through no matter what. Guess what happened to registration?

foobar Says:

ApplesAndOranges: Yes, agreed that you say bullshit. :-) If you WANT, you do ALWAYS nice design. The beauty of *design* is not when no more space to add, but when nothing to remove.

Remember that.

Ecogiochi Says:

in this blog too… so as in mine ecogiochi the first blogames in the world! lol

Jo Says:

For many years I worked in a place which had a three rules.

Write down what you want on ONE side of a piece of paper – no more. And the top third of the side will be used for routing instructions – you don’t get more paper for that.

Send it to me in time for me to read it before we meet.

Explain what you want to me verbally or through your emissary.

If I cannot understand what you want in one minute with further one minute for questions, I ask you very courteously whether “you would like to withdraw your paper”.

It is possible to keep it simple

LottieWill Says:

Eric,

Judging from the programmer flames here, looks like you hit ‘em where it hurts. Cool. :)
The heavy defenses you triggered is a lovely illustration of all the reasons given for why folks are daily faced with complex, frustrating designs.
You’re a prince.

Moo Says:

It’s not the three hours of learning. It’s the three hours of RE-LEARNING over and over and over. Unless it’s an application someone is living in 8hrs/day (CAD, or Word Processing for example) the issue is a user’s ability to remember their way through the complexity. Someone who is only in an app a few hours a week will never get past the most basic features – all the rest is noise.

Developers out there – I don’t care WHAT you say – you can’t defend the indefensible. “Power” and blah blah blah is meaningless unless someone can utilize it. I’m an implementer, on the road most of the time helping companies stand up the unusable convoluted products you create. Get a clue. Go read Allan Cooper’s books (www.cooper.com) before you start your next disaster(er, ‘application’).

Alo Says:

Great comic!!! Thanks!

Kyrre Nygård Says:

That is fucking brilliant!

UI Geek Says:

Hilarious, and too true, particularly considering a recent project I worked on, where the client actually said they did not care about usability, and they don’t get back to people who fill out their overly-complex Contact Me form anyway. (Yes, you heard me right.)

The overly-literal critiquing (while it has a valid point…) is pretty darned funny too. Remember the classic “What the customer wanted” vs “What was delivered” cartoon with the tree swing? Image this sort of discussion about that one. “Oh, come on, a sawn-off tree would never be stable if it were only held up with a few 2×4s.”

merc Says:

lol…it’s soooo true~~

Josh Viney Says:

Awesome! To all the folks thinking this is an apples to oranges comparison. I agree if you’re referring to the fact that Apple and Google hire actual UX and Interaction Design professionals who can create easy to use products that make the complicated look simple. While most internal company apps are built by underfunded teams comprised of only developers, analysts and project managers where the closest they’ve gotten to usability is skimming “Don’t Make Me Think” because they thought it would make their jobs easier.

aw Says:

haha, very very cool :P )
It’s really the truth -_-

Mike Says:

Fact is, a lot of corporate apps are trying to maintain feature parity with something that was written for a V102 terminal, where they really wanted to pack as much interface into 24 rows and 80 columns as they could. Or they’re a front-end to a SQL table.

The hard part is reconceptualizing a form-based transmit/redraw app into an interactive page, with progressive disclosure based on user intention that you infer from their input. So much easier to just slap up the results of your SELECT and make a textfield for each field of your INSERT.

MM-Cleveland Says:

I agree this is bullshit.

What is not obvious is iphone’s development budget was over $200 million; Google’s is much bigger.

It is easy to do what Apple and Google are doing, provided: (1) you get the burger my way or take the highway. (2) I can spend megabucks in design and emotional appeal. And if you don’t like my search results, tough!

Provide the 3rd form to Apple and Google. Tell them we want all the info with ability to change our mind and the resulting database records should have very high reliability and integrity. Let us see how much ease and simplicity they can build for $1000.00 budget.

Eric Burke Says:

@MM-Cleveland, if this were simply a matter of money, Microsoft apps would rock.

SR Says:

Nice presentation for simplicity

jack Says:

hehe, great article. Simple is always good

Sebhelyesfarku Says:

This comics is Mactarded.

ROFL

Nielsen Says:

Fun observation, but not entirely true.

Ever tried to fill out the next page on Google and Apple?

Nothing to add…

Jason Says:

That is sooooo true. Simple is simple, but it’s never easy. :)

Viktor Says:

all software developers, burn it in your brain!

Kiran Says:

This application pic shown is 1000 times simpler than what I am used….

Harry Brand Says:

‘Your Company’s App…’ is the ideal solution, and much preferable to today’s application ‘platforms’.

Prosolution Says:

I am Very thank full the owner of this blog. Becouse of this blog is very imformative for me.. And I ask u some thiing You make more this type blog where we can get more knowledge.

Stefan Says:

the third dialog is missing one important element – the Copyright remark! how dare you.

Brandon Says:

We use something like Your Company’s App at my job, and I work for a pretty large company whose primary focus is software and hardware development. I understand that sometimes some complexity is needed, but in our case, it’s ridiculous. The system I’m referring to is basically a back-end ordering system–kind of like an in-house point of sale system. We have two fields that are required on every order, and which always contain the same two-character code, yet we have to MANUALLY FILL THEM IN or things go wonky and you have to basically scrap whichever order you’re working on and start a new one. Makes absolutely no sense.

It seems to me that with in-house apps, companies do the bare minimum to focus on functionality because they believe they can spend less money on training (and re-training) than it would take to make the app more elegant in the first place.

Tim Says:

Eric your comic is good all by itself, but I have to admit it pales in comparison to the unintended humor I’m finding in some of the responses it has drawn…

Creg Says:

The irony is that if you want to simplify app #3, you catch nine types of hell from everyone that has learned to work with, and around, the way the application works now.

Google got it right the first time, in part because they could learn form the mistakes of the search engines before it. Apple gets it mostly right and has a user base that is more willing to adapt to changes, good or bad.

Any existing piece of software has user inertia; get it right the first time or live with what you have. Figure out how to get it right the first time on most company’s budgets and you’ll never want for money or a job again :)

Creg

Karen Says:

ah brings back memories of my first app ………..

and all the naysayers who had a “better” opinion

thanks for the laughs

Dario Says:

It looks like the app I use @ work!
Very Nice!

Dario

mieora Says:

you are comparing apples and oranges.
can you truly fill say an employment application (or opening a bank account) with just a “touch” or a “find” ?

next time do some research first.

ps: your catcha truly suck.

Eric Burke Says:

@mieora I never said or even implied that. Your inability to understand does not make me wrong.

Smitty Says:

@mieora: Actually he’s comparing Apple to Google. No oranges. No grapefruits. In fact I’m horribly upset that there’s no mention of any citrus fruits at all. I think Eric’s got SCURVY!

P.S. while doing your own research, look up “humor”. Your English truly suck. 8^)

John Says:

Is your app still in beta or ready to roll? I would be happy to test it for you, I want a copy. Ha.

Thanks for the laugh. John.

LOL, that’s so true.

http://www.floors4u.net/

Joe M. Says:

So, I read this as: Apple makes apps with no substance, Google makes apps with a tiny bit of substance, and the real (unsexy) work is what the rest of us do. And the gilding dollars are in opposite order, so the apps look crappier as you go.

Shouldn’t cartoonists have a bit thicker skin?

Koziolek Says:

If I need search form I will look like Google,
If I need just run app I will look like Apple,
if I need to collect information about my client I build multifield form.

So, the best application collect only data they need.

szuman Says:

power in simplicity

投資理財 Says:

Eric your comic is good all by itself, but I have to admit it pales in comparison to the unintended humor I’m finding in some of the responses it has drawn…
http://www.myfinanceadvisory.com/

Doniek Says:

True, true :)

Anonymous Says:

All hail eris!

Julio Says:

I think Burke’s gotta point. If you look at the new Apple touch interface there is one feature that is strikingly missing: a help system. Not only that, but there is no help manual in the box! But it took me less than 1 minute to get my head around the UI. Well, the hardware favors that – just touch away. But look at Google apps such as adwords or the calendar. They are a bit more complex than a simple search but they are extremely user oriented. I think apps based purely on a multitude of forms can be helped by new smart interfaces and creative UI components. Of course, apple and google have the billions to form the best programming and UI teams. Still, profusion of UI technologies and practices make it not so impossible for the rest of us to build sharp user-friendly apps – even at the corporate level.

AyeltKomus Says:

Trackback from weblog.wikimanagement.de – Einfachheit in der Nutzung – Oberflächengestaltung
http://weblog.wikimanagement.de/index.php?/permalink/2008-04-16.html

Touche!

Flash Drive Says:

Thanks for the laugh. John.

DRAM module Says:

It looks like the app I use @ work!
Very Nice!

DL Byron Says:

My fav here is the irony of the Question Mark Heads. Did those commenters choose to not pick an avatar or couldn’t figure it out?Wait, I don’t know where I’d change my avatar either. Oh and the captcha that’s an ad — I just totally guessed at words I can’t read and hoped they worked . . . I’d like to use Chaos Defrost mode on that!

http://texturadesign.com/blog/2008/04/chaos_defrost.htm

Fran Says:

That’s so good! And like i red, so sad!

In order to make http://www.stuffthathappens.com better i think, in this reply section, links must be opened in a different navigator tab. It’s about web usability too…

Thanks!

Fran

Juegos Says:

Interesting article, thanks for all.

Alami Chakib Says:

Simply Google – Alami Chakib

Simply Google is a roundup of every Google search and service

out there on one convenient page .

Every thing related to google can find here Link :

http://www.simplygooglefromonepage.blogspot.com

Try it and Enjoy .

PrintPlace Says:

Is it just me, or does anyone else see the irony in certain comments? Some people just can’t keep anything simple! To keep things complicated, I’ll go on to say that you would think companies would notice that most people stop clicking and stop typing after 5 fields or so. Get their name, number, email address and then get out of the way!

PrintDesign Says:

Oh, that is perfect. That is so accurate it is not even funny. But isn’t that they way of things now? People are always trying to complicate things. The newest app has to have more tricks and gadgets than the last one. But why? Is more difficult really more useful? Isn’t it usually the other way around?

Randy Says:

That was pretty funny. These huge companies are pinpointing customers wants and needs so well that they just shatter small companies.

Eric Burke Says:

Well this article has turned into a spam haven, so I’m closing comments. Thanks for all the fake comments, spammers!