rules that apply to both design and life
The scientific methods that exist today are not always enough to justify all the things that are happening around us. How to explain that a sandwich most often falls butter side down, and a flash drive with a presentation stops working a minute before a conference speech? Why does the client find fault with the shadow from the "Contact" button, but does not want to use high-quality photos on the site? Where is justice and who is to blame for all this?
In order to systematize the world's turmoil, experts from different fields formulate their own rules of thumb, which are successfully applied in the world of branding, design and development as well. Today we analyze the most interesting of them on live examples.
"If there are two ways to do something, and one of them leads to disaster, then someone will choose this way."
Murphy's Law is also known as the Law of the sandwich or the Law of spite. The term itself was born in 1949: its author was Major Edward Murphy, who studied the causes of aircraft accidents at the California Navy base. According to legend, he said this phrase at the moment when the started aircraft engine began to rotate the propeller in the wrong direction. As it turned out later, the technicians installed the parts backwards.
One of the many consequences of Murphy's law is the Pauli effect. He says that in the presence of certain people, any technical equipment fails. Remember those terrible moments when a flawless project presentation suddenly turns into a nightmare right in front of the client?
This law explains a lot and nothing at the same time. Moreover, it rather confirms the fact that the curse of the devil is imposed on all of us. The good news is that we can at least be prepared to fail at the wrong time. So stock up on extra presentation boards, back up important files, and prepare for the worst. Then success will be a pleasant surprise.
"One should not multiply things unnecessarily"
In other words, you don't need to produce several similar elements if you can get by with just one. This rule applies perfectly to interfaces, information design, and even advertising copy. Here, for example, how this principle can work in the case of websites:
- not four clicks, but two;
- not seven fields in the application, but three;
is not a registration form, but an authorization through social networks.
Don't confuse this principle with minimalism: it's not just about looks. It is important not only to reduce the amount of unnecessary information, but to shorten the user's path to their goal. On a banking website, this is the customer’s path to getting a credit card, in the alarm clock interface, it is a quick setting of the right time, and in the advertising text, it is the delivery of the necessary information.
Finding the simplest solution is not as easy as it might seem. Complementing, overloading and complicating is a human nature and the scourge of many designers. This can be sinned by both juniors with their inherent youthful maximalism, and experienced specialists.
Occam's Razor will help you cut off all unnecessary and start working with the main thing. As a result, you will be able to increase the concentration of useful content in your project and remove unnecessary obstacles in the way of the user.
"The work expands to fill the time available to complete it."
For the first time this phenomenon was noticed by the British historian Cyril Parkinson, who worked in the British civil service. He found that as the bureaucracy expanded, the employees of the departments became less and less efficient: the increase in staff did not affect the overall level of productivity.
This pattern is often interpreted as a human tendency to put things off until later, but this approach is not entirely correct. There is a big difference between the Parkinson principle and procrastination: in the first case, people change the amount of work and load in proportion to their deadlines, and in the second, they start the task at the last moment.
If something needs to be done in a year, it will be done in a year. If it needs to be done in five months, then so be it. If you set aside two weeks for a task that can be completed in two days, the task becomes more difficult just to fill the allotted week. In other words, the excess of time allows you to make the project larger and more complex, and its lack, on the contrary, cuts down the functionality.
KISS Principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
“Most systems work better if they stay simple, not complex.”
Modern programming languages, frameworks and APIs have become powerful weapons for developing complex solutions for a wide variety of tasks.
Developers are often tempted to create the coolest and most complex product possible. The KISS principle says that the less polymorphism (in other words, diversity), inheritance, and the like, the better the final solution will be. Good web designers know that a useful interface is an invisible interface. Hidden interfaces, sometimes called null interfaces, are a hot topic in the developer community. And not in vain. UI design really gets in the way. We don't want to focus on it - we want to focus on the content that the website provides.
By focusing on the experience, not the interface, you will ensure that your users remain at the center of your mission. And everything you do will make their life better and easier.
Pareto principle (80/20 percent rule)
"For many cases, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes."
The author of this pattern was the economist Vilfredo Pareto. In 1896, he found that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. There is also a story that before making a global calculation, Pareto, working in the garden, noticed that 80% of the peas are in 20% of the pea pods.
The direct consequence of the law is that most of the actions will inevitably be carried out in vain. Few things work fantastically well and have a huge impact, while most of what exists in the world is of little value and produces little results.
About 80% of your sales are generated by 20% of your customers. 20% of errors are responsible for 80% of failures. 20% of your employees bring 80% of your business results. The numbers may not always be even, but the ratio of four to one will be constant.
The 20/80 principle is widely used in business, but it can also be applied in everyday life. Try to answer the following questions. They seem complicated, but only because you have never tried to calculate this before:
- What do you spend 20% of your time on, while getting 80% of happiness?
What 20% of clothes do you wear 80% of the time?
- What is included in those 20% of foods and dishes that make up 80% of your diet?
Answered? Now think about how you can improve these areas of your life. Of course, these are far from all examples of the use of rules and laws from the field of economics, psychology and other sciences in design and development - everyone is able to find non-standard applications for the most ordinary axioms.
Whenever possible, try to compare how you make decisions in everyday life and work: who knows, what if your principle of choosing canned peas in the supermarket coincides with how the customers of the company where you work replenish the basket in an online store?
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