Lily Kollé: How minimalism will improve your design process

Design minimalism is more than a lifestyle choice, it’s putting a ruthless focus on the ideal path to let the user achieve what they want. And that isn’t always the simplest.

Lily Kollé is a senior designer at Raft Collective

WARNING: Live-blogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and howling crimes against grammar and syntax. Post will be updated over the next few days.

Let’s talk about the ideal path – the minimum number of step for a user to achieve a task.

Look at the iPod – the purpose of the product was to browse and find one of 1000 songs. You need to focus on that, agnostic of the company and existing products. Focus on making it obvious – which the wheel of the iPod did.

Dieter Rams specified that you should omit the unimportant to focus on what is there. Prioritise editing, so there are no distractions for the user.

Naoto Fukasawa said that the best designs dissolve into behaviour. He designed a rice cooker with a paddle rest integrated into it.

This is minimalism not as a aesthetic or a lifestyle choice, but a design principle. Pare down to the essentials and discard the rest.

Yes, UX can be more complicated than a rice cooker, but the idea of the ideal path can make you a better designer.

Remember libraries? That’s where we used to keep information. You had to find a library, transport yourself there, use the card catalogue, write down the codes,and then search the stacks. There were many deviations from the ideal path – but it was as close as we could get, until the internet. And then you had directories like Yahoo, but you still had to dial-up, you still had to browse. No more dial-up any more – that’s an edit. And no more browsing, just a search box. How minimalist is the Google home page? Now, we’re speaking our questions into thin air. We’re approaching the ideal path for search.

This is not bare minimum user experience – but you should know what it is, and understand what deviations you’re making and why. You conceniously add to the bare minimum as necessary.

What if we prioritise the core objective, agnostic of the company?

What if we edited ruthlessly?

What if we found the ideal path?