Simple Solutions Scale Easily

Creating a clear narrative across a packaging range for a best-in-class customer experience. Designed by Future Product for Canyon Bikes.

A unifying theme we like for design is about how it deals with sensemaking. As a form of communication, good design helps new ideas approach simplicity, whether they are digital, material, spatial or theoretical products.

It is common for the background technology behind successful products to be complex. Usually the result of many brilliant minds plugging away at abstract concepts until breakthroughs open up new potential for innovation.

In our experience most people in the real world don’t care for the background story. They are motivated by the meaningful intervention — ideally a lasting improvement — a product will make in their everyday lives.

Getting from an idea or breakthrough to a lasting positive impact is a non-linear and undefined journey. And while each journey starts out unclear, a willingness to build the prototypical and experiment with unknowns can help make sense of even the fuzziest of directions; particularly when stewarded by a competent navigator (a designer). No journey worth taking is easy, and so the road to simplicity could, and probably should, be pockmarked with trial, error and failure.

Strong ideas have manifested as weak products because the focus on a technology outcome has outmuscled the inclination to learn by experimentation. Rapid commercialisation, which sidesteps hands-on development and favours perceived needs and imagined future-states, can result in feature-laden products with flimsy narratives.

Products of this type turn to marketing, instead of design, to drive audience engagement. By comparison, the design-led product with a concise narrative offers a clearer communication of its purpose.

If the biggest challenge to a product’s success is adoption; the biggest barrier to a product’s adoption is complexity. Simple solutions scale easily because ideas are better-placed to cross over into the cultural commons where they move naturally and with less resistance.