Simple Japanese Housekeeping Rule for Zen UX

Japanese Zen Garden is beautiful and it has story within. There are meanings in the simpleness. How can we achieve the same minimalistic beauty of Zen Garden without compromising usability?

I am neither Zen Master nor UX Guru. But I found the Japanese Housekeeping Standards 整理整頓 “SEIRI SEITON” helps me keep my app simple, clean and useful.

Meaningfully Minimum

“SEIRI” 整理 means “Keep only things you need and organize them in meaningful order”. The very first step is dumping garbages away. Declutter functions. Then organize in meaningful order for your user to achieve their goal. You can use techniques such as Card Sorting.

Some designers become confused about simplicity. I have seen many presentations by designers using very small fonts leaving big open area on background. These presentations are beautiful but not helpful. Simplicity needs to be meaningful.

Useful Cleanliness

“SEITON” 整頓 is about usability and cleanliness. You can see it and you can reach to it when you need it. You can find a book in bookshelves effortlessly. Don Norman defined “SEITON” in design language very well. “SEITON” is about mapping in his book “The Design of Everyday Things”.

I went into a building to attend a workshop. I was a bit confused in the entrance hall of the building. I could not find a floor directory. I asked security guards in reception. They didn’t know about the workshop. You can remove visual sign, but you need to have design intention to help people getting to the place they are going.