Remember smart thermostats before the Nest? Didn’t work. Well, actually — they did work, but nobody knew how to use them as they had tons of buttons, menus to navigate, and manuals to read before you even understood where to start. Then the Nest came along. Turn the round dial clockwise, and it gets warmer, turn it in the other direction, and it gets colder. Do this for a few days, and Nest learns your preferences and starts programming itself.
TV remotes, microwave ovens, many software applications … The list goes on and on. All too complicated to be used by mere mortals. Sometimes a solution like the Nest thermostat comes along, and suddenly, the world changes. MP3 players before the iPod? Smartphones before the iPhone and Android? Shoelaces before velcro? Same deal.
If history teaches us one lesson, it is: Whatever is easiest wins (in most circumstances).
Take a hard look at the thing you are building, be it a physical or digital product or a service, and ask yourself if it is easy enough. German design legend Dieter Rams, creator of many generations of Braun devices that lived by this principle, summarized this beautifully in his philosophy of “less, but better.”