Friday, February 16, 2007

Easy = Happy

I just got off the phone with tech support. The guy was friendly. He helped me help myself in about two minutes. I hung up and thought: "that was easy". I smiled.

Easy is the new black. Long ago, things used to be easy. Microwaves had one dial, and nothing else. Not even a start button. Not even a button to open the door. And certainly not any of the other 35 buttons that my microwave has. (Don't think I made up that number. I went to the kitchen and counted. Funny thing is, I would have only guessed somewhere around 15, probably only 4 of which I've used so far. My god, it even has a "Help" button?!?)

Then, stuff started to get more complicated. Instead of leaving frozen meat out on the counter before you leave for work, someone decided to let the microwave take care of it so we wouldn't have to remember. Then someone decided that there should be a special popcorn function. (Popcorn came out just as well, if not better, in my old one dial microwave. Back then, I'd stand around waiting to listen to the kernels to decide when it was done. It never failed.)

So things started getting more complicated. Now, we live in the age of the 80/20 rule. 80% of the people will only use 20% of the features. I'd actually be surprised if it's not a higher ratio than that.

Now everything must come with a 100 page manual.

This is why the iPod is so successful. It's basically just one button (the clickwheel). It only works with iTunes. No confusion. No compatibility issues. No nonsense.

Ikea gives you step by step pictures (without words) for each piece of furniture you buy from them. (Plus, then they don't need to do translations for other languages). And somehow, picking up your own stuff in the warehouse seems easier than being at a store where someone has to go find it for you, doesn't it?

The tax code just keeps getting bigger and more complicated. The uber-simple Southwest Airlines is almost an instant success.

Web Portals like Yahoo fell out of favor. They could do a lot of things fairly well. Google stormed to the top. It did one thing better than anyone.

New services on the web barely even have instructions. They are supposed to be easy enough to figure out without them.

When things don't work, it's frustrating. It stresses you out. It makes you unhappy. Life is supposed to be easy. Who do you think is happier? You, or some farmer out in the great plains? I think we all know which one has more peace, less stress, and more ease in their lives.

Certainly the farmer isn't farming just to support his lifestyle. But what about you? Are you doing what you do because you love it, or because it supports your lifestyle?

Now think about what your lifestyle entails. Does it make you happy?

How many extra buttons and settings does your life have?

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