Why is NOTHING ever simple? Crack it and you're laughing!

Ok – I’m pretty IT savvy, and yet why is it that I still end up tearing my hair out when it comes to undertaking what should be a really ‘simple’ task. I simply want to transfer the photos from my Blackberry to my laptop.  Now that shouldn’t be difficult at all should it?Basic Calculations Surely the current Blackberry Desktop Manager has a simple resource for doing this – surely, it’s just a simple case of syncing my device and voila!  Er – no.  Not that simple.

Ok – I won’t be defeated, rather than email each photo to my outlook account (tedious) – I’ll send via Bluetooth.  Simple!

So, I open the Bluetooth access on my laptop – my laptop and Blackberry run into the arms of one another – very painlessly – and connect.  Great – so now it’s just a simple case of sending my photos via Bluetooth.   Er – no.  Not that simple.

The software is not compatible.   Bit of a pain – but shouldn’t be insurmountable – I will simply visit the Blackberry.com site and get the relevant update.

By now I’ve spent the best part of 2 and a half hours trying to complete what should be a really, really, simple task.

So, I open up my Desktop manager – and request updates – again should be simple – and it pretty much is.  I access the relevant updates, upload – message that it may take 30 minutes for everything to configure.  Oh, oh – there’s now no way to stop this progress, as if I do I’m warned I disrupt the data and so I am now left wondering what exactly it’s up too – and keeping everything crossed that it hasn’t reconfigured my email accounts (as it did last time)!

What should I be doing now – well actually, enjoying the snow with my children at the ‘community built’ ski and sledge runs at Punt Hill.   A task that I thought would have taken me minutes – has taken hours!

How much longer…

The statement ‘why is nothing ever simple’ – isn’t just my continual mantra.  I hear it all the time from friends, peers, family – even my children.  And hence why those businesses that have a sole purpose to ‘make things simple’ – and really deliver on that – are destined for big success.

Oh – have to pause this post – got to restart my ‘systems’ to implement the changes.   Back soon.

Pleased to report that I eventually managed to get my Blackberry photos uploaded onto my laptop.  In fact, having battled with the Bluetooth access – it transpired that the lated Blackberry desktop manager had indeed included a Media Sync function in their latest release.  So there it was…

Customer service has nothing to do with simplicity

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the Blackberry service – indeed their customer service has always been responsive and excellent.  This isn’t what I’m talking about – it’s more to do with the fundamental way things are designed.  Create products and services that are so intuitive – and customer support becomes almost unnecessary.

There’s a business model right there – make or provide access to a product or service, which is as simple as possible, and you’ll thrive.

For example, The Made Simple Group have a number of online services for the start up and small business communities – which each site offers something different, the one similar key factor – making simple.  It’s no wonder that their www.companiesmadesimple.com site is one of the leading online company formation sites in the UK.  They’ve made the process of forming a company (I’ve done this a few times now on other sites and with my accountant and have to say never, ever, found it a simple process previously) – but with Companies Made Simple, it really is a very simple process.

Another service I came across, www.enterprisemadesimple.co.uk – focus on getting access to all the grants and funding available for businesses – simple.  There’s so much red tape involved, that it becomes such a time consuming exercise for businesses, that I’m sure there’s always surplus funding left over at the end of each day.

Businesses that focus on making things simple – designing products and services, and websites – that are so intuitive, are totally on to a winner.  In an age where time is our most limited resource – those services that make things truly simple will win through.

One of our own sites – Logotastic, an online logo design service, was created just for this purpose too – the brand identity and logo design process can often be a very lengthy, time consuming and expensive process.  Logotastic focuses on getting the user to put their brief online in a succinct way – and then they work through the design iterations with a professional designer online – cutting out the often unnecessary, design by committee and meeting after meeting elements.  The ethos - to simplify and make professional design affordable to all.

There’s a great book I recommend, The Design of Everyday Things, which is a bible for anyone interested in usability – not just online usability – but service design and product design.

I do find myself always saying – why is nothing ever simple! As things never seem to be as clear cut as they should be.

In fact, this morning, (now a day after the Blackberry case) I had to wait at my house before going to the office for an Engineer to drive all the way from Kent to deliver a new knob for my cooker (using up fuel and increasing carbon footprint)!  I had told them the model number, serial no etc – in advance and explained that the two spares I had been given on delivery of the cooker some 18 months ago, had been used up – one other knob had cracked (design fault with the original design I suspect) – and could I have a few more in case of further incidents.  However, rather than simply packaging up the knobs and posting them to me – I had to take time out of my working day, the engineer had to drive from Kent to Berkshire – for what was a ridiculous ‘call out’.  He was here no more than 5 minutes – he opened a DHL bag (which had been posted to his office) containing the knobs – took one out and put it on the cooker!  No skill required whatsoever.  So why all the hassle – why not simply send the knobs directly to me!  Bonkers.

My mantra for 2010 is to ‘keep things simple’ – and to look for the most ‘plug and play’ products, and simple services I can.  They save me time and keep my stress levels in check.  I’m not prepared to battle any longer.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about dumbing down – as often it takes a whole lot of complex thinking and backend structures to make a process as simple as possible (think Apple and you know what I’m talking about).  Hence why many cut corners – and we’re left with unnecessary customer support calls (which again, tend to take hours to rectify – particularly when related to IT).

So come on you corps out there – make things more simple… a bit more effort at the design and service delivery conceptualisation stage will reap huge rewards.   Those businesses that are already doing it – are doing well.

It’s not rocket science – so I’ll end this post with a KISS… (keep it simple stupid)!

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Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative - a graphic design and marketing services agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  The agency covers all aspects of graphic design and marketing - covering social media marketing and website planning and website design.