I miss the heyday of designing rich and beautiful websites with interactive experiences and a thousand moving pieces. I’m sure I’m not the only designer who laments the good old days and, at first, perhaps a little hesitant to accept the new minimalist kid on the block.

But that was before everything had to be responsive, interacted with on a thousand different devices, oh, and now it has to be an app. And, seamlessly transition between portrait and landscape, iPhone to TV. Lending itself perfectly to multi-device, minimal design looks like it’s here to stay.

Sometimes we can get a little carried away with stripping things back in the pursuit of trying to make everything nice and clean, which, instead of improving experience, can leave your users guessing what to do next. Users value experience over the shinier aspects of design, and you can be sure, if it’s not intuitive to use, your customer base will find something that is.

A main component of the OpsBase native application is ‘Performing an Op’. Ops are essentially daily individual checklists that will be assigned to a range of hospitality employees for them to perform on the move, on mobiles or tablets, usually with their hands full and a stream of customers waiting for their attention.

We had to consider the possibility that these Ops would be quite frequently assigned within a working day and that the checklists within each Op could be a bit lengthy, especially around compliance areas such as food safety or fire regulations. Therefore an interface that would be visually easy to decipher and quick to use would be the best approach, as efficiency is key.

However, is stripping back to the bare minimum the best way to go when designing a product?

 

Minimal Prototype 1 (left): Simple, clean, just the basics. A user should be able to quickly run down the checklist and complete their task, with no visual redundant elements to distract them. This is a utility app that thankfully doesn’t look too much like one, which initially we thought was a good thing. The biggest problem of taking on that approach and line of thinking was that it didn’t make for a checklist that was easy for the user to differentiate between each individual question.

Enhanced Prototype 2 (right): We didn’t need to take a ‘chuck everything out and start again’ approach, we just had to accept that we went a little bit too far with the ‘strip it back’ execution. This lead us to the simple addition of individual cards to contain and separate each question. It does look more like a utility now, but in allowing that, it also makes for a much clearer and defined UI and hopefully a better user experience.

As designers we can get a little too concerned about what we can strip out instead of considering what needs to be added. As we are designing and developing our product, whilst also considering multi-devices, we must consider visual impact, and maybe sometimes, less is really not more.

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