“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
― Steve Jobs
Every now and then we keep hearing about the power of simplicity and clarity, but no one (at least in the business world) has leveraged that power and walked the talk better than Steve Jobs. His talks and presentations (such as the one below) on being absolutely simple and clear on what Apple stands for have inspired many people.
We are constantly bombarded with information, messages and noises from the moment we wake up to the moment we go back to bed. There is so much information overload that our brains instinctively reject anything that we are not required to do and is hard to comprehend. It is this fact that requires us to be simple and clear in order to engage better with people. This is especially important to understand from a marketing perspective. With so many advertisements and PR campaigns targeted towards us every day, there are only a few that stick into our head. These are the ones that are either being repeatedly played (very expensive and not always effective, example - look around you) or are very simple and interesting (very hard to do but very effective, example - Apple's 1984 commercial).
Being simple and clear is probably one of the most effective strategies in the current world. Look at Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Twilio, Dropbox, HearSaySocial - the list can go on and on. But then it probably is not just about being simple and clear, but about being simple and clear to an extent that you "dumb down the user". Let me explain it before you come up with your own interpretation of this. Dumbing the user down does not actually mean making a consumer stupid or going after stupid users, but about making the experience so fluid and intuitive that they do not have to put much effort into using your product/service or comprehending your message. The easier it is for a user to use your product and to get to what he wants out of it, the more chances you have that he will use that product again (obviously, given the hygiene factor that your product actually is useful).
This simplicity, fluidity and intuitiveness is not a one-off, and needs to happen every time the user interacts with your company. Companies and consumers talk to each other regularly and are in constant dialogue. These conversations happen on various touch points. Companies talk to the consumers in many ways including product [design], websites, user guides, advertisements and price plans. And in the same way, consumers talk back to companies in many ways including product sales, customer support and feedback forums. If you analyze these touch points, you will realize that the ways in which companies talk to their users are more subtle [less obvious] than the ways in which the users talk back. That might be one of the key reasons for it to be harder for companies to being articulate and positioning themselves in front of the user in a simple and clear manner.
In the age of Facebook and Twitter, getting mindshare has become more important than earning revenue (for sometime, and at least for startups). That is because getting the user base is really hard, but once you get it, making money out of it is much easier. This fact explains the high valuations of these new stars of the Internet. But then again, getting the mindshare is not easy as well. You have to make sure that every aspect of your product is simple, elegant and clear, 'cause in this world of big data, complexity is the last thing you and your users need.