a large red F on a report card

“Easier” Can Be a More Powerful Value Proposition than “Better”

This really resonated with me, even though I had never heard of Pinterest Fail before.

My sort of thing is more like… how can I do something foolproof, cheap, and low-effort that will make me or my family/guests smile?

This is the value proposition that gets me up every day. I don’t follow Martha Stewart’s advice, no matter how beautiful it could make my apartment. I watch the Iron Chef, but I have never been tempted to put that much effort into a meal. And I know I am not alone. (Raise your hands – I know you are out there).

When a task is just for me, I want it to be least effort to get it good enough for the minimal need I have. When it is for my friends and family, I want it to be a little better than this, good enough to show them that I care. But perfect? They wouldn’t be my friends if they expected things to be perfect – they should know me better than that.

Great example from Pinterest Fail. Which of these do you think tastes better?. I bet they taste the same, regardless of the way they look.

The exceptions are school and consulting. Not because of the extrinsic motivation of the paychecks, but because I love human factors for its own sake. Also, I owe it to my students to help them learn as much about Human Factors as I can and launch them on successful careers. And I owe it to my consulting clients do help them grow their businesses through the creation of exceptional user experiences. But then what I help them achieve is to make their designs good enough for what their users need.

So there is place for the “better” value proposition, but it depends on the domain and the context. I don’t need “better” for most of the day-to-day chores that I have to do at home, school, or work. Don’t create a complicated product that has the features, functions, and options to help me achieve excellence when I just don’t need it. “Dumbing it down” doesn’t imply that I am dumb; it recognizes that I have enough to do in my life that is much more important than dealing with your interface. Let me save my precious attention for that.

Image credit: “FAIL” by amboo who? used under CC BY-SA 2.0

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