Make it simple

Posted by Tom LarsenJul 19, 2017 Marketing, Operations, Planning, Product Development, Sales 0 Comment


Once you learn how to ride a bicycle, riding a bicycle becomes easy. It can seem pretty simple. The reality is it is not simple at all. It’s very complex and requires a lot of different real time sensors from your body to your brain making ongoing adjustments and requiring energy to make it work.

Navigating a website, processing a transaction, onboarding a new customer or client, finding files on your server, can be really simple too, to the person who has been working do it day in and day out for  weeks, months or years. The person on the other side, who has never navigated the website, never processed a transaction and never been onboarded to your world, they have no idea how it works.

How good a job you have done making your processes simple for your people or your customers is determined not by how wonderful you think it looks from the inside. The quality of the simplicity is determined by the ease with which the user can get done what they need to get done for them to progress.

Once I bought a desk chair from Staples. I have assembled a lot of furniture in my time, mostly with a bag full of hardware and some lame instructions that are text heavy and picture light. This time, I opened the box and found an instruction sheet that unfolded like a poster with no text; graphics with numbers and part listings with arrows and lines to “show” me what to do. Conveniently, a ribbon of small polybags of hardware each with a number that corresponded to the graphics that I would open in sequence so as to never have hardware I did not need yet floating about. The individual parts also had corresponding numbers with the graphics, such that everything I needed for step 1 was numbered 1. It was simplistically brilliant. Someone thought about the uninitiated one time user.

Are your systems as easy to utilize for your people as the Staples chair? Did you set up what works best for you personally, or was the least expensive or was the most expedient and leave everyone else with the result? Is your Call to Action button actually hard to find (e.g. Mail Chimp Next button)? Is your navigation actually fragmented (some top, some bottom, some dropdown)? Is your process to get throughput only known by those that have done it for days or weeks? Can you teach someone in an hour? Better yet, can your documentation teach someone in an hour?

If you’re not sure, ask your last new employee and see what they think. The more questions they need to ask, the more non-intuitive your system is likely to be. My standard is always based on the experience of others. Simple is actually hard to achieve. What’s your standard?

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