Design for simplicity : software options

(I was highly inspired by Evan Martin post before trying to recap in this post)
Think twice before adding an option to a software; options are :

  • bad user experience : good software just works without asking to many things to the user.
  •  a maintenance cost : an option is a feature you have to maintain/test for the lifetime of the software
  • documentation cost : every option, even the most cryptical, should be documented to the user, explained and you should provide some examples of use. When you normally try to do this you end up removing the option from documentation
  • normally options are a way to delegate to user a decision that the designer failed to take : “shall we open on the last opened document or shall put an options ‘always open on blank document’ ?
  • remember the paradox of choice
  • options setting generates bad GUIs : they are hard to present, group or organize.

On the other hand consider that any change you make will probably break someone’s workflow, no doubt, so the temptation to create an option to enable the previous operational mode is high.

The old windows search wizard, awesome, read this :