Simplicity is the key to Usability

Reading Meg’s post on the Talented Apps blog I was inspired to write a quick blog post rather than leave a long comment. Meg talks about how we can strive to improve the usability of our applications, something that we need to continually work on. We did what we thought was the right thing with our AGIS out of the box in R12, but this was really just scratching the surface, there is always room for improvement and we need to constantly reduce the complexity we present to users.

John Maeda has an excellent book and companion website on the laws of simplicity, which is a must read. I have lent the book out to a lot of people and I can’t remember who has it now, but if it’s you and you’re reading this – please return it! This book lays out a set of laws that all design should adhere to in order to reduce complexity and having these ideas in the front of your mind is going to help guide you in the right direction when working on designs.

It is a challenge to create a set of complex applications, but the real challenge is to keep the complexity hidden giving a simple user experience and this is where I believe applications vendors will provide most value going forward.  We simply need to reduce the complexity (and hence cost) associated with owning applications without sacrificing any functionality – this is not easy, but I like a challenge and fortunately the people I work with do too.

Author: David Haimes

I'm Senior Director in the Oracle Research and Development Organization, with close to 20 years working in various roles on the development of the Financial Management product suite.  Since the summer of 2016 my focus is exclusively on working with customers and longer-term design work, particularly around next-generation functional and technical architecture. My task is to figure out NOW what the financial management system of the next 3, 5 or more years should look like and start working toward it.  At the moment the majority of my time is spent working on Blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT), leading the effort for all of SaaS applications.  I'm also interested in AI, Machine Learning and new UX and interaction paradigms such as chat bots. I started out in Oracle UK and found my way out to Oracle's Redwood Shores, California HQ in May 2000.  My previous role was product owner for Fusion Accounting Hub, General Ledger, Intercompany and Legal Entity products in Oracle Fusion Financials and eBusiness Suite General Ledger. I have also worked on EMEA Globalizations, Federal and Public Sector Financials, XML Payments and a variety of projects on other products down the years.

2 thoughts on “Simplicity is the key to Usability”

  1. Thanks for the Laws of Simplicity link. I had not heard of this before. I really like John Maeda’s thinking.

    It’s funny that Meg’s blog caused you to write this one because I almost left a comment on there as I thought the first 3 items she listed were so appropriate:

    * Remember that there is a difference between usability and flashy UE. Quality usability allows me to do tasks efficiently, with a high degree of confidence I’ve done them correctly.
    * While continuing to solve 100% of the business requirements, we need to be mindful of not putting the burden on the 95% of the users for the complexity needed by 5% .
    * We must never think it acceptable to have a user experience be a direct reflection of a data model. User experience is about task completion and not at all about data storage*.

    The second one really resonated with me. The third one is exactly what I am working on now! :)


  2. Pete,
    Meg’s post was spot on, this is something I know her and I are both passionate about.

    The second one we always have to keep in mind, we spend a lot of time and brain power solving the complex problems, so it is easy to get caught up in that and forget the 95% use cases.


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