by James Monsees
In an age of distraction, the beauty of simplicity still prevails. As companies compete for consumers’ attention, restraint can be an entrepreneur’s most powerful tool for surviving in a competitive landscape.
Consider Google. Its home page is a search bar in a sea of white. Nothing distracts the user.
Apple offers a selection of simple, beautiful products designed to work straight out of the box without overwhelming the user. It’s no surprise that Steve Jobs was a student of minimalism, the concept of paring something down to its essential elements.
By understanding the concepts behind minimalism, you can help your product achieve unparalleled beauty and utility.
Minimalism Is Ubiquitous
Minimalist design has a rich history. Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe adopted “less is more” as a motto for the minimalist style of design, and German industrial designer Dieter Rams explained his designs as “weniger, aber besser,” which translates to “less, but better.”
Minimalism has infiltrated successful product designs all around us. FaceTime offers a simpler user experience than Skype through its one-touch access. You don’t have to open an app; it’s already embedded in the device. Video chatting with Grandma is as simple as making a phone call.
Legos are simple, repetitive pieces of plastic, but they can easily be transformed into cities, pirate ships, or anything else the user can dream up.
My all-time favorite example of minimalist design is a fork. A fork is straightforward and doesn’t need instructions. It has a handle, which is the only obvious and comfortable place to hold the product. The other end becomes an extension of your hand. You can stab at something or pick something up. That’s the extent of the platform known as a fork.
Forks have been around for millennia, but we’re now seeing a renewed appreciation of minimalism in every aspect of our lives, from smartphones to furniture.
What Minimalism Means for You
There are several design strategies entrepreneurs can learn from the founders of minimalism:
Design products that are inviting and engaging. Whittle features down to the essentials so users aren’t overwhelmed or distracted by extra bells and whistles.
Create a sense of wonder. By clearly defining your product’s purpose and crafting a design that accomplishes it easily, users can admire the beauty of your creation without distractions.
Strive for honesty in design. The easiest way to communicate what a product does is through the product itself. In a big-box retail store, you see laptops covered with stickers touting all the features inside. But the customer doesn’t necessarily care about every feature; he cares that the machine will let him surf the web or edit a video to send to his daughter. Make it clear what your product actually does, not what it has.
When your product is as straightforward and free of unnecessary features as the fork, users aren’t consumed by its complexity. They just understand how it works.
James Monsees is the CEO and co-founder of Ploom. Founded by two Stanford Design Program master graduates, San Francisco-based Ploom is leading the reinvention of the smoking experience with its premium loose-leaf and pod-system vaporizers. Ploom creates superior, beautiful, and technologically advanced products that are disrupting and redefining the future of the tobacco industry.
Daniel Llamas Soto | Courtesy of the Author