Simplicity – Be Your Own MVP

January 25, 2016

It’s a new year and, to many of us, that means we’re able to start with a clean slate. People all over the world say that THIS is the year of change and vow to change something about themselves – more exercise, healthier foods, less alcohol, more love, the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong support of the things above, but my promise this year is a bit different.

At the end of last year, I took a stand against the constant stream of information that interrupts every second of our lives. I did the unthinkable for most people in my industry – I disabled almost all of the notifications on my iPhone. I decided to stop spending my first waking moments pouring through emails and social media. I made the choice to focus on one thing at a time and if that one thing is just waking up, then that’s fine. If it’s drinking my morning coffee, then that focus means that I’m able to better taste it, not just consume it.

As a freelancer and one-man company, it’s inevitable that things get crazy at times. I’ve found that applying the same rule – focusing on one thing at a time – makes it feel less hectic and I can be more productive. I can take time to appreciate the little victories that focus brings and move on to the next task without feeling overwhelmed.

How does this translate to user experiences?

Previously, I talked about the importance of a MVP – a minimum viable product. The key to a great MVP is to really understand what one thing your product should do well and how it should do it in the simplest way possible. Even when it’s time for the product to scale up and add more features we know that having simplicity at the core makes for a better product. In the industry, apps and user flows are now recognized as being better if they concentrate on doing just one thing at a time.

From UX Design’s excellent State of UX in 2016:

“Fast forward a couple years and we’re now designing around time: from having all the information available at any time (e.g. homepage) to having just the right amount of information available at the exactly right time users need it:

People want to do one thing at a time, and they want to be guided through the flow as opposed to being prompted with multiple decision points at every step.”

Can WE be a MVP?

For some reason, human beings are so focused on being the opposite. We collect labels as if they are valuable to defining who we are. A person can be not only a great dad, but also a marathon runner, a designer, a tech lover, an equal rights active… oh, and play in a band too! It seems that the more we take on (bonus points for it being at the same time), the more society validates us as being successful. However, science has shown that we really aren’t built for multitasking. Multitasking doesn’t prove we’re productive, it just proves we are busy.

So my challenge this year is to MVP myself. What’s the essence of me? What’s important for me? I’ve spent years trying to please others and make decisions that I thought would fulfill their needs and desires. Turns out, this hardly ever works – not for them and especially not for me.

When I look at the products we create, the rule for me has always been that it is better to be loved by a few than liked by many. So let’s start living our personal lives that way as well. Here’s to an awesome 2016!

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