Constraints Can Make a Good Experience

Sometimes having a constraint on what you offer makes for better customer experience.

Twitter is the experience it is because of the limit on the number of characters that you can use. I’m told that Instagram has restrictions on where you can put links. Even Facebook doesn’t allow the same rich-text experience (e.g. bold, italics, etc.) that you would get from a regular word processor document. People don’t quit these platforms because of the constraints. Everyone realizes that these are the rules of the game. And we are happy to play within the rules.

Remember that you are allowed to have constraints and limitations when you are delivering your projects and products. We often feel that we have to deliver everything. We don’t. A perfect product is one that is simple and consistent and does what you expect it to. The first iPod didn’t have a radio receiver (only later generation Nano ever does.) The iPod did exactly what it was supposed to do: hold and play music.

Deliver projects that deliver unique results. Don’t worry about providing everything. Decide what is most important to your customer or user, and deliver that one thing. Limit the user experience to only the excellent stuff. The constraint will:

  • Help them understand precisely what the product is for.
  • Direct them on how it should be used
  • Provide clear rules that will allow them to creatively bend and flex the use of the product to make it into what they want.

Don’t be aware of building constraints into your design. Sometimes this constraint is going to make your customer very happy.