KISS Principle, Lesson Learned.

A design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960, KISS=” Keep it simple, stupid.” read more on wiki. I’d like to share one of my experience and why we, as a designer should have take this principle as the primary foundation.

This article is for designer who is not in software environment. The following story was taking place while I was learning proper approaches in a manufacturer company. Luckily I am now working in a software company, lesson learned and I moved forward. :)

In most of days, I like to create something fun so I don’t get bored myself while developing the project. While doing so, I might be blurring the need of target user accidentally. Last year, we had a project to a web app for our customers. If by any chance, you also work in a large organization and non-software environment, you know that it’s your duty to go get as much information as you can.

But who was our target user? I didn’t have clear picture. My focus was more on understanding how the actual product works, this web app is a digital tool to help customers select their new bathroom (tub and shower). I spent a lot of time to talked with industry designer, understanding what’s the possibility of the actual product can expanded. I stared to make prototypes with “fun” in mind, my thought was if user land to this web app, they don’t really know what they want yet, so they should play around and see what we can offer.

Here is the prototype run 1.

NikeID was the main influence of this prototype, as I just mentioned, fun was the key. Back then my target user was, persona: Christina is a 38 years old wife, she is thinking to redo their bathroom. She often browse Houzz, and she has good taste of design.

Of cause I failed. This prototype tested with in-house researcher, he killed this prototype right after the test. The reason was the actual product doesn’t offer the flexibility of options. The way I designed, it means user can create whatever they want by selecting any walls, and glass. But the actual product doesn’t offer this flexibility due of the installation security.

After many iteration, we went out for A/B testing with real user. Oh, forgot to mention, while I’m developing the prototype, the target user group finally been prioritized. The company had “Property builder” “Bathroom designer” “Plumbing contractor” in mind, this is really off than my original thoughts!

Option A - testing with real user.

Usability testing is the moment of truth and you can learn so MUCH out of it. We have learn our target user actually know what type of bathroom they need before search online for material. The essential information they have are size and wall placement. If you think about it, they are house builders, why won’t they know what they want, or what can they do, right?

This is where you should apply KISS. Build the tool which allow user go right to the point where they wanted. Try the final published version here.

Often time, company want to make one tool and hit many birds as it can, but we should always prioritize it. It help us to focus and apply the KISS.

When you notice the lack of resources, you should at least to know: Who is your user? How do they work? and try as many testing as you can while you build it, it’s very simple, just ask ur co-worker and see how they click through, the quick and dirty way. A good UX is not from only one person, it a good mix of feedback and iterations. Make it simple, make it straight forward.

Written by

Senior UX designer. I design app with people and for people. I write what happens during my process.

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