The importance of being simple

I was talking to Benjamin Ellis this afternoon at the Tuttle Club meeting. In addition to many IT and non-IT related things that he has done during his long career, Benjamin also helps businesses understand software applications better. As I was asking him how he goes about that specific job, I suddenly remembered why simple videos made by Common Craft and Google are so important, and Benjamin reciprocated most of my thoughts.

1. They are short. None of them is over three minutes, going up to maybe five at the most. In a world where businesses and brands need to jostle with one another for the consumer’s attention, short is not only good, its necessary.

2. They are free of jargon. I am not an IT engineer, and I don’t purport to understand what the technicalities of CSS, C++, Java and so on and so forth are. I am a user, your target user, and all I need to know is which tabs or keys to press to do what. These videos do just that with no fuss.

3. They are visually very easy to comprehend, and before anyone comes back with the quip that videos are by definition visual – DUH, what I mean is that the camera follows the exact action that needs to be performed to use the application or site properly, minute by minute, so that there is no room for doubt. Clarity is very important for the end user to be able to use your product properly, thereby getting the best out of it and becoming a fan.

Look at this video for Google Sites, which is a blog-meets-wiki-meets-personal/professional site.

2 thoughts on “The importance of being simple

  1. First, thank you for the mention and very good to have met you!

    Doing these sorts of short form explanations really is a fine art. As I watch more and more of them, and as they have become more popular, I realise that sometimes people are just selecting 6 minutes out of 60 minutes of material. That doesn’t have the same effect at all. The art is in distilling it without loosing the meaning, and as you rightly say, putting it in the audiences terms.

    I think that Common Craft do that ever so well, and have really pioneered the format.

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