Linked by Eugenia Loli on Tue 21st Nov 2006 18:05 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces In this article Joel talks about the number of choices in applications. "This highlights a style of software design shared by Microsoft and the open source movement, in both cases driven by a desire for consensus and for "Making Everybody Happy," but it's based on the misconceived notion that lots of choices make people happy, which we really need to rethink."
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"In the end, choice isn't bad"

Read the article again. Joel quotes research saying that too much choice IS bad. I have several analogies explaining this:

People have to constrict their options in order to live happily in a big city. Everyone does this. If there are thousands of pubs/restaurants/cafes to go to, most people constrict their choices artificially to the few they get used to quickly, adding in and removing a few choices now and then.

There are currently hundreds of graphic card options from nVidia and ATI. The choice is confusing and sometimes downright infuriating. It makes me unhappy to have to choose between all of these choices. A good shop would do things to help me restrict the choice. That too many choices makes people unhappy has been backed by scientific research.

The exception to this rules are people that care SO MUCH about that particular niche that they love to customise something exactly to their needs. These people will find the iPod infuriatingly simple and will hate "dumbing down" of interfaces. These users will also have hugely different wants and needs and catering to them will not just slightly increase complexity, it will multiply complexity many times over.

They are, however, the extreme minority and if you are making mainstream software it does not make sense making the average user very unhappy by the sheer complexity just so you can cater for these users.

That is why you need to CHOOSE which users you cater for. Either making 70-80% happy or 90% unhappy. Microsoft seems to be choosing the latter, despite being the most mainstream software maker there is.

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