I’ve been trying to create a user interface that is very easy to use. And as I work on it, I keep running into the same problem.

The easiest way to make something easy to use is to limit the user’s choices. If you only give people simple options, then everything is clear and easy to learn, and in fact pretty much self-evident.

But once you start empowering the user, it’s nearly impossible to keep things simple. Which is a shame.

For example, it’s easy to give people one representative object (say, a chair or a dog). But it’s hard to give them an easy way to have fine control over exactly what chair or dog they will get.

Which isn’t to say that easy/simple is better or more complex/powerful is better. They are both good.

I think the solution is to know your customer. You need to understand what they really want to do, and why they want to do it.

Sometimes people need a fighter jet, and sometimes they just need a bicycle. And if what you really need is a bicycle, you’re not going to be happy with even the best fighter jet in the world.

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