Life is complex, we constantly wish to make it simpler. Especially as designers our goal is to create intuitive products, which is fine. However, sometimes that need can fire backwards and create more problems than it was intended to solve. Complexity is part of us. We cannot solve complex problems with simple solutions. Complexity is not bad. It can be challenging and engaging, where simplicity is boring. We need to understand it to master life’s challenges and to create better products. This article helps how to handle it when designing complex products.

There are two types of complexity. We talk…

Enterprise applications are complex. It takes time to understand how they work and even longer to master them. Employees are constantly learning new systems or applications. This happens during a reorganization of a company involving new IT systems or an onboarding process after changing the job. Learning new systems and workflows costs a lot of cognitive load, stress and frustration. To make an employee’s life easier, applications should allow Safe Exploration.

The purpose of Safe Exploration

Safe exploration allows one to learn the application without having the fear of breaking something. It’s the learning by doing principle which is way more effective than studying with…

How to design for mobile and head-mounted displays using a language learning application as an example

I failed to learn Dutch

I remember the last time I tried to learn to speak Dutch. To learn that language I could choose between books, articles and videos with the best practices and apps. They promised me to learn Dutch in a short amount of time. Of course, I wanted quick results, like we all want, so I tried them all. I was very motivated at the beginning and successful, but after a certain time I lost my motivation. My expectations were too high and I could not meet them. …

A refurbishment of a basic design tool.

Gradients are well known tools for designers that have practically been used since the beginning of computer graphics software. They are often used to mix colors in ramps, to shade objects or to control complex parameters in 3D applications. It feels like they are there since the beginning of computer graphics software and have not changed for years.

With Cinema 4D version R20 I had the chance to redesign a Gradient interface which had to be adapted to a new material system. In this article, I share the enhancements that my team added to the new Gradient, which could be…

A case study how we implemented tools for designers breaking mental models and dealing with complexity.

With release R20 Cinema 4D got a new modeling feature that allows artists to design models with almost zero learning. This new modeling feature called „Volumes“ is based on voxels, which are basically pixels in 3D space. Creating a feature which fun and easy to use, caused challenges for design and development. This Case Study should give you some insights into how we approached and resolved them.

To keep up with Maxon’s compliance agreement. I have omitted any confidential information. This case study is based on my personal view and does not necessarily reflect the views of Maxon.

This character was created using Voxels. They are great for waxy objects.

First of all: What can you do with these tools?

Voxels are…

Looking at the history of Adobe Illustrator, you can see how computers changed the discipline of design. There was a time when computers were only used by scientists and engineers. They were basically only for people with deep technical knowledge. The human computer interaction was limited to typing commands and it required a milestone like the graphical user interface to make the computer accessible to other peer groups, e.g. designers.

In 1982 John Warnock and Charles Geschke founded Adobe. Five years later, in 1987 they shipped the first version of Adobe Illustrator. It was a commercial version of their in-house…

Matthäus Niedoba

I help people to build complex software products. Currently, as a Product Designer at, working on decision automation platforms.

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