The fundamentals can take you very far

I read a great blog post recently about designing software for people and how the term “User Experience” (or “UX”) is thrown around so much these days – and it can mean a lot of different things to different kinds of people. This term spun off of the term “User Interface” (or “UI”) – which is more simply, how a human interacts the software. The end of the post, which explained why UX usually confuses matters, was this sentence…

“But for software makers, I recommend starting with a strong understanding of UI by itself. The fundamentals can take you very far.”

This rings so true in nearly every thing I can think of. As a non-business example, the worlds best golfers have a strong understanding of the fundamentals – and they practice the fundamentals every day. Nothing more. They focus on the simple fundamentals of the game – the same thing the best golfers from 60 years ago focused on. Things like a good grip, good posture and good balance throughout the swing. These things solve the problem of hitting a golf ball well. No one is ever going to come along with some new swing feature that is going to make golfers any better. The best in the world beat the others by consistently applying the fundamentals.

So in terms of software and business, what I got out of the article today is that people are sort of forgetting that the fundamentals of software can really take them a long way. Very basic user interface design being the fundamentals – might be all you ever need. It’s really true. I think with all the problems (simple and complicated) in the world that are good candidates for needing a software solution – most are seeing over complicated solutions. Part of that is the excitement about how many millions (or billions) of people might end up needing it – so it attracts huge amounts of venture capital that it doesn’t need. So it then has no other option but to get bigger and more complicated by creating and selling more features in order to create a bigger return for the investors. Not many investors will be happy with a simple, useful design that solves just one problem well – would they? Another part of it is that people apply either the wrong technology or too much technology – simply because it exists and they can. They started out with a good idea and a simple solution to a core problem and then decided to try and make it better by adding too much and solving too many problems. In many cases, the problem did not change, but the solution did anyway.

I bet, in the future, we see more people getting back to the basics of problem solving and focusing on the fundamentals. Taking baby steps, when solving a problem successfully, might be the only steps people ever need to take.


p.s Here is the article from software designer Ryan Singer. He is a smart person.