Finally, we come to the rare but precious Simplicity-Oriented Design, or SOD. This process starts with a realization: we do not know what we have to make until after we start making it. Coming up with ideas or large-scale designs isn’t just wasteful, it’s a direct hindrance to designing the truly accurate solutions. The really juicy problems are hidden like far valleys, and any activity except active scouting creates a fog that hides those distant valleys. You need to keep mobile, pack light, and move fast.
SOD works as follows:
We collect a set of interesting problems (by looking at how people use technology or other products) and we line these up from simple to complex, looking for and identifying patterns of use.
We take the simplest, most dramatic problem and we solve this with a minimal plausible solution, or “patch.” Each patch solves exactly a genuine and agreed-upon problem in a brutally minimal fashion.
We apply one measure of quality to patches, namely, “Can this be done any more simply while still solving the stated problem?” We can measure complexity in terms of concepts and models that the user has to learn or guess in order to use the patch. The fewer, the better. A perfect patch solves a problem with zero learning required by the user.
Our product development consists of a patch that solves the problem “we need a proof of concept” and then evolves in an unbroken line to a mature series of products, through hundreds or thousands of patches piled ...