Obvious vs. fast

Should your features to be easy to learn, or fast to use?

Designers are all about making software easy to use. But "easy" is more of a loaded word than you might think.

Easy contains at least two competing concepts: things that are obvious how to use, and things that are fast to use.

  • One way to make everything obvious is to only show one relevant thing on each page. But then people will have to click a lot to get anything done, which will slow them down. Not fast at all.
  • On the other hand, you can make everything fast to do if you just put it all on one giant page, with every option just a click away. But then you clutter up the design and everything’s hard to find–no longer obvious.

In a way, you have a certain amount of things you need to show people, but limits to your users screen size, attention span, and patience. You have to figure out how to arrange things in space and in time (ie, spread things out spatially or sequentially) to get the best outcome. This means not everything in your app can be both obvious AND fast.

The books I recommend to designers 
What to do when you’re stuck on a design 
Design is mostly about emphasis Coming soon

Read this article before it’s published

Leave your email and I’ll send you an early draft