Simple sells depending on who you’re selling it to

We love simple. That’s why people say “I just want things to be simple.” No one says, “I want things to be complicated.” I’ll prove it to you right now.

If you google the phrase “I want things to be simple”, you’ll get 954,000 matching results. “I just want things to be simple” returns a respectable half-million-plus results.

Try “I want things to be complicated.” There are 4 unique results (as of this post). So, I guess I was wrong. Four people want things to be complicated. Only one of these results is not about the subject of boyfriends. I’m serious. If it’s not about boyfriends, one person in the history of digital recorded history has, jokingly or not jokingly, wanted things to be complicated. This is it.

Suffices to say, we are lovers of simplicity. We crave things that make sense, that have rules, boundaries, and expectations. Simplicity is not boring or mundane. It’s comforting. It makes us feel like we know what we’re doing. It lets us predict. It lets us plan. It enables us to do things.

As a company, we strive for simplicity. It’s why we have X2O, a platform that gets rid of the complicated-yet-trivial necessities of RIA development. It’s why we sell DoneDone, an application that tries hard to mask the extra noise of issue tracking and expose only what really matters to you right now. Hand me something simple to use, simple to understand, and I’ll simply like it.

The problem comes when we (and I’m back to the general we) dream, when we pitch, when we sell. We are bad at imagining simple things. Sometimes it’s because simple things are difficult to think up. It’s why instruments like this…

…that led to instruments like this…

…did not happen overnight. It took decades of dreaming, thinking, and re-thinking, to get to simple. Sometimes, simplicity is hard to make.

However, more often than not, simplicity gets lost in dreams and pitches because it just doesn’t feel like enough. It feels like you’re not getting your money’s worth. Even worse, a simple thing that’s also simple to build feels like it should have no monetary value.

Standing behind something simple feels too easy and too cheap. It flies in the face of things that should be big, inspirational, and awe-inspiring – because it’s only when ideas feel big, inspirational, and awe-inspiring that they also feel worthwhile. We forget that the real end-product often has different parameters for success.

An infographic inspired by Craig Bryant

The natural urge to complicate is something we fight at WAM. We have to constantly re-sell and re-pitch simple to ourselves. We’re all recovering complexaholics, but it’s a good habit to break. Countless arguments about how DoneDone and X2O should ultimately behave ended up with incredibly simple solutions – changes in text, moving a link somewhere else on the page, removing something, or not doing anything at all.

Yet, these simple conclusions came out of hours and days of discussion, thinking, and re-thinking. To get to the simple conclusion took effort and sweat. If we were paying ourselves for the effort, it was definitely worth quite a bit.

It’s this very mindset we hope to instill in our clients and the work we produce for them. Simplicity is not for a lack of thought or caring. Just the opposite, in fact. Simple solutions shouldn’t be thought of as not enough of anything. Sometimes they are exactly enough of everything.