Creating designs can usually be benefitted by ‘stretching’ your experiences and applying them to your process. Interface design is no different from this, and the topic of simplicity vs complexity is one of the oldest topics for this field of design.
I recently watched John Maeda’s TED talk on simplicity, which I’ve found to be quite reliability to designing interfaces. The juicy take I got from his talk was his definition of simplicity being “about living life with more enjoyment and less pain.
My own understanding of how this can be applied to interface design is broken up into two parts:
- Use simplicity when the user wants to accomplish a clear/straightforward goal
- Use complexity when the user does not know what they are looking to accomplish
The logic being that ultimately a user wants to avoid pain when using a interface, so if they know what they want it should be as simple as possible for them to acquire it. When the user doesn’t have this goal clearly laid out, more information might benefit the user over having an insufficient amount of information – which might pain the user.