Decisions, Not Options

I first heard of this philosophy, “Decisions, Not Options,” via WordPress which I have since adopted for many of my previous products. Not only that, I’ve adopted this philosophy in general for some of my organizations as well. It’s nicely applicable to most things.

Here’s what they have to say about that:

Every time you give a user an option, you are asking them to make a decision. When a user doesn’t care or understand the option this ultimately leads to frustration.

As developers we sometimes feel that providing options for everything is a good thing, you can never have too many choices, right? Ultimately these choices end up being technical ones, choices that the average end user has no interest in.

It’s our duty as developers to make smart design decisions and avoid putting the weight of technical choices on our end users.

You and I have encountered this too many times to count as many of the apps and products that we use today are too bloated to be useful.

Most of the Microsoft suite of products (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.) are like this with far too many options for the user to choose from.

An insane number of options. Frustration.
An insane number of options. Frustration.

I can’t, for the life of me, imagine ever having “fun” or enjoying my use of any of those products!

Consequently, I’ve leaned in deeply to the belief that well informed software development can help the end-user tremendously by removing frustrating options from the table and simply focusing on what the user needs chiefly.

In fact, when you compare Desk with a Microsoft Word you find very little aspects to compare and contrast! The only thing clearly similar is an area to write. All the rest is transparent or simply does not exist.

I have often questioned the true utility of many of the “features” that we are presented with for many of the apps that we use, especially when it comes to blogging software.

Even WordPress, which I am very much a fan of, seems complex and overladen with options:

wordpress

That is a lot of options and the clutter can be incredibly distracting. I think this is why many newer blogging applications have gotten rid of a ton of features that do not necessarily enhance the writer’s experience and that do not directly contribute to the production of content and words.

For instance, take a look at Medium, Svbtle, Roon, and Ghost:

medium

svbtle

roon

ghost

The focus, visually, is clearly on the real task at hand: Writing. I like that a lot.

So, when I began thinking about building a native desktop application I thought long and hard about the decisions I wanted the user to make instead of navigating through a ton of options.

And, if I could move closer to some of the newer writing platforms, aesthetically-speaking, then I would be doing everyone a great service.

The result was something so minimal that it would be impossible to make it more simple! There is nothing more than a writing area for maximum focus, concentration, and creative productivity:

editor-blink

There are no options for the user to execute against, no options to confuse their need and intent. Just a drafting board to capture their thoughts and stories.

Decisions, not options.

And, I do not ever see this changing. Why would it ever need to?

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