Will you sacrifice minimalist UI for features?

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There are a lot of apps that claim to have great features and minimalist UI as well. But from my past experiences, this is very difficult to achieve. Either you have to sacrifice your minimalist UI to add more features or you have to cut back the features to keep a clean UI.

Why am I having this concern? Recently I'm using a productivity app that helps me track tasks and manage my work. I really like the app but they're adding many features to make the platform better and I worry if it might destroy the simple and clean UI.

Quire

Image source: Quire

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Most apps that claim to have a minimalist UI don't, they just copy some of the visual styles that Apple use and call it "minimal".

That screenshot you have up there isn't minimal, it's cluttered and confused:

  • Is everything flat or are we into gradient effects?
  • Should icons line up vertically or be like the filter icon and whatever the big O icon means is?)
  • What exactly is the O under the filter for?
  • Come to that, what are the other icons? There's a plus sign and next to it there's another plus sign but with something liney in the background. What's that about? I can't guess. On the right side, I can't figure out the second icon at all, and the others I'm only faily certain about.
  • The eye icon (presumably a view count) is also presumably read-only, where the others are actions. It's also much heavier than the other icons, but I don't know whether this is because it's denser or whether it's supposed to be showing me an active state.
  • if it is showing an active state, it's inaccessible.
  • Shouldn't an "overview" be the first thing in a menu?
  • The folder tree's twisties open at 45 degrees. The sitebar's open at 90. I don't know what the one in the right hand pane does, but I bet it's different again.
  • At the top, there looks like a left-arrow to close the sidebar, but it's in a different style again.
  • Why don't we care about accessibility at all? Everything's so low-contrast (and small)!

What I'm saying is, apps like this are a mess, adding features to them won't change that. They're not using anything people could legitimately call minimalist design and so there's nothing to lose by bolting things on.

 

Features are overrated ;)

Seriously, many great apps have lost (some) value for me because they kept adding features i don't need/want/use but did make the app less usable.

I am thinking of GMail and Analytics, for example.

 

This is not the first time I see Quire using this kind of tactic, with false profiles promoting its app. Your profile is full of comments with stealth links to Quire.

If you ask me, it's quite lame.

 

I would say:

  • for an e-commerce / presentation website: keep the app the most minimalist possible. The challenge with this kind of web app is that your user does not have a manual, so it should be the most light and simple to understand. Users can quickly loose focus when browsing your website. Users won't call you if they don't know how to purchase this item, they will just leave for your concurrent.
  • web app, like ERP / CRM: feature first (of course), and consistant (if the cancel button is outlined, keep it all the way around all the views). Minimalist is not possible in this case, so the more your views are predictible, the more simple to use. The user might be using this create contract only once in a while, so he should be able to catch the idea of your views in a few seconds because he could be in a hurry with a customer awaiting. However, he can browse at any available manual if needed, or call the customer service in case something went wrong. Web app of this kind adding a lot of resource on the beauty will loose the market because users want functional, bug free tools. Beauty is just a bonus in the end.
 

The world is full of products that keeps on getting "improved" but in actual fact they get over cluttered or just plain ruined.

We start using products because we like the way they work with us, but a constant change is actually really bad.

Imagine having to re-learn how your lipstick works every few months, what do you think about that?

 

This is actually a solid concern. I'm often torn between minimalism vs more features

I suppose the question would be: does the minimalism offer more value to your customers? Or do extra featured capture more value for your customers

Either way, I believe that even if you were to add more features, you could still have a clean ui. When there's too many to maintain a clean ui, then there's the option of making the extra features plug-ins & maintaining the original (or close to) ui or concealing the features to prevent cluttering the ui

Either way, I'm speaking off the top of my head & would definitely love to hear your thoughts on this

 

Its a trade that has to be done unfortunately.

Very rarely companies add new features and on same time keep the same minimalistic UI. Somewhere in between there will always be a complex UI element that goes against the UI logic but rapresents such a good or big or new feature the company wants to add that they cant do it otherwise.

In the world of today, features have more value then the simple UI. Rarely you see the minimalistic UI as the selling point anymore because no matter how simple the UI is, if they have complex features minimalism wont work anymore.

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