Tag Archives: content

Content Complexity vs Navigational Complexity

The dream job of any designer is one that gives the flexibility to design a product exactly the way the designer wants it. The best-case scenario is where the designer’s vision matches what the users want. Users may not want pretty user interfaces and this is where designers need to learn to tame the designer ego.

Designers, on the whole, deal with a whole lot of constraints other than just ego. Even beautiful products such as the Macbook is constrained by cost and availability of materials.

In MOE, the main constraint to designing great online communication lies in the heart of defining what good communication is. For the most part, users I’ve had the privilege of polling would like information presented clearly and plainly. We have tried our best to do that whenever possible. They want unambiguous instructions to facilitate their decision making process.

From MOE’s point of view, clear communications means a slightly different thing. Information and instructions should address the myriad of possible user scenarios down to the smallest minority cases. A lot of the time, this is the reason behind extremely long and convoluted instructions which end up doing a poor job of communicating to anyone with less patience than Mother Teresa herself.

Our mistake here is in believing that the addressing of all scenarios ought to be contained within the copy. The correct application should be to put the burden of sorting out user scenarios on navigation. So rather than reading 30 paragraphs of instructions trying to find out which paragraphs apply to you, the website ought to allow you to navigate to a webpage containing information pertaining to your specific needs; and on that page instructions should be written in simple, easy-to-understand language.

The balance of navigational and content complexity is something we’ll always have to grapple with.