The Power of the Strip Search

No. No. No. NO. No.
Maybe. No. No. No. No.
No. No. Nada.  Yes. Non
No. NO. Never. No. Maybe.

That's probably a routine list of responses from Marissa Mayer, formerly Google's vice president of search projects and user experience, to ideas about how to improve the Google home page.

It's also a response more meeting planners, product developers, task forces and many others should be offering.  but instead they keep adding in features, thinking that more options—more stuff—means more value.

It usually doesn't.

The end product or event often does very few things well, but overwhelms you with its bloated add-ons, new features, and options.  It's a mess of mediocrity that is marketed as new and improved.

In his wonderful book, In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing, author Matthew May asserts that:
"The point of elegance is to achieve the maximum impact with the minimum input. It’s a thoughtful, artful subtractive process focused on doing more and better with less."
May notes that organizations successful with elegance design possess both discrimination and discipline: the ability to discriminate about what matters most and the discipline to reject everything else.  One side benefit of Twitter is that it forces us to do exactly that in order to communicate meaning in 140 characters or less.

The next time you start to design or improve a product or service see if you can muster up a little D&D and apply the power of the strip search.  Add usability by stripping out unnecessary features or options.  Edit, edit, edit until what remains is elegant in its simplicity and robust in its value.

For more on this topic, read this great essay by the folks at Frog Design.