23 Jun Why the ‘less is more’ concept in software design often falls short of its intentions
After 2 and a half years working at the heart of the Indian Silicon Valley where the worldwide web leaders settled down, I became familiar with a common practice of many IT production centers. While promoting agile development methods, developers start designing core features of a website or application and – mostly due to tight schedule and small budgets – skip over other minor features, regardless of technical specifications that were previously approved by the client. It seems this practice has become very popular in western countries too – from EU to US – and surfing on the trendy ‘less is more’ concept to justify this low quality-oriented behavior has become a worldwide sport.
Because we believe in quality, I would like to share with you an article written by Jean-Noel Lau Keng Lun that caught my interest while ‘less is more’ was heard everywhere.
One of the latest fads in software design ‘guruism’ these days is the concept that “less is more.” This comes from the theory that new features add complexity to already complex products and hence make them unwieldy.
Now, when your beloved software developer is being bombarded with enhancement requests and resources are constrained, isn’t a great excuse to actually do less? Rather, I believe that less is simply less. Software has to evolve. If you just do less, it simply does not grow.
However, the inverse is also true. More is just more. Investing money and resources to add a new feature has to be worth it …for the maker and the user.
This all boils down to how we define the worth of adding more features. For me, it is worth it if you are doing something for the human being who will be using the feature.
For Amadeus, the most recent example of the benefits of adding more practical features is when we decided to highlight a small detail in our flight display results to show people that they were departing from one airport and coming back home via another (for example leaving CDG and landing at ORY).
The information had always been available – but in the same font as all of the other flight information. Just highlighting this at a relevant time had massive impacts and people (the real humans who use our software) wrote to us saying that this feature helped them avoid a nightmare.
Features like our ‘comfort-minder’ alerts assist travellers by visually highlighting the potentially uncomfortable items in an itinerary, such as an itinerary lasting several days, later and earlier departures, and a change in airports or departing stations.
We’re constantly striving to develop better features – not for the sake of following trends – but rather to actually mold what the future travel experience will be like by adding useful, valuable features.
What features would you like to see to help make the travel process smoother? More here.
I hope this article will help you challenging your colleagues, partners or vendors when they will argue ‘less is more’ next time. Because ‘less is more’ and ‘keep it simple‘ refer to two different approaches that are too often taken for same.