With Great Features, Come Great Complexity

I overheard my wife explaining how to use a cable TV remote control to my dad.

“This is very easy, to see all the channels just press this, then you can press this and that to move between these thumbnails, and there are four buttons with red, blue, yellow, and green color. You use red to go back to previous menu, and….”

She was too excited, and before she finished, I cut the talk and said “Just show him the up and down button for channels.”

I was wondering as well, late at night, when kids are sleeping. Me, sitting on the couch, holding at least two remote controls, “How complex these remotes are!”

The cable has hundreds of channels, and those buttons are meant to help to navigate, yet it’s adding complexity to the interaction. I looked at my XBox controller. It has a lot of buttons, more than 10! I even read manual when playing Fifa 11, which button for which action. Even some actions require me to push multiple buttons!

I modified that Spiderman quote : With Great Power Features, Come Great Responsibility Complexity.

I totally miss my childhood. The part where there are only 2-3 channels of TV, and the buttons are just for volume, channel, and ON/OFF. I miss the part where my game console buttons are just UP/DOWN, LEFT/RIGHT, and A or B. And I miss the part where I can hug my mom anytime I want ๐Ÿ™‚

But if it’s not because of a more complex life, I wouldn’t be able to write this post on a train, using my iPhone ๐Ÿ˜€ I just miss those simple things that still could make me happy.

Ps. You should read this great book by John Maeda : The Laws of Simplicity. It might help you to design great features yet simple, or at least feels like it’s simple.

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