When less is less and more is too much.

Honda. Door handles optionalThis Honda trunk-lid has been simplified and streamlined so much that the owner has crudely screwed on a ‘hardware store’ handle to make it easier to use.

Mazda. Where is the 'forgot pin' button?This Mazda door entry has gone the other way by adding complexity; a key-code entry, which looked to me like it had never been touched, whereas the standard key-hole had seen plenty of action.

Less features or more?
Your new product needs a point of difference in a crowded market, but there’s a fine balance between adding features and taking them away.

The key to this balance lies in how useful and intuitive it is for the end user.
In these examples, the product teams have gone out of their way to either simplify or complicate a conventional and accepted way to open a car door, at great cost to the carmaker, and with no benefit for the end user.
So, how can you tell which way to go?

  • When does more become too much, and less not enough?
  • At what point does the investment your customer has to make in adapting their behaviour to a new design outweigh its benefits?
  • Exactly how minimal can you go when stripping back those features to make your customer use your product without having to think about it? (let alone hack it to make it more usable).

User research
We can get a good feel for where this balance lies by watching the way people use existing products and prototypes of new ones, gaining an understanding of what they need and don’t need, what works for them and what doesn’t.
If either of these two carmakers had spent time purposefully watching their customers use a prototype of these products they would never have made it to market.

…or perhaps Honda just wanted to sell door-handles as a premium accessory?

3 thoughts on “When less is less and more is too much.

  1. Keith Humm

    Ha! I used to drive a Honda Concerto, and always found the boot was difficult to get a grip on.

    I don’t think I have ever seen something quite so cryptic as the Mazda code lock however. Where on earth did you find this gem?

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