A few years ago, I taught one of my professors how to use Twitter. He was amazed by its simplicity.
He asked, “If Twitter is so simple, why is it so popular?”
I replied, “That’s the whole reason.”
When confronted with multiple choices, the majority of people will choose the easiest option. People use products that have the lowest barriers to getting results. Here are three ideas to lower the barriers for your product:
- Take a sledgehammer to the learning curve. You can learn how to use Tinder in less than 10 seconds: swipe right if you’re interested, swipe left if you’re not. This is much easier than learning how to approach girls at a bar or signing up for an online dating service. Thus its popularity.
- Fast is perceived as easy. Email overtook snail mail, and texting overtook email. Users perceive speed as ease-of-use. Yield results as fast as possible, and people will be more likely to return to using your product1.
- Provide decisions, not options2. Apple’s designers make decisions for their users. As a result, their products are straightforward and easy to use. This is a direct contrast to endlessly customizable Linux distributions.
- Remove usage dread. How do you keep in touch with distant friends and relatives? You don’t call them, and you don’t text them – you use Facebook. This is because Facebook eliminates phone tag, awkward silences, and the expectation of thorough responses. It’s just easier.
Designing a product to have low barriers is an intentional process, but yields staggering returns.
- This is a common psychological principle. Tim Ferriss follows this philosophy in the Four Hour Body, where he starts the book with tactics that produce rapid weight loss before introduces other solutions that take more time and provide an even better result. Readers quickly see a benefit to following his first methods, so they continue reading and practicing the material. ↩
- This is a philosophy of WordPress. I like Tom McFarlin’s take on it. ↩