Grid and Maze

Manhattan, for the most part, is a grid. It is easy to navigate. The simple layout of the city makes it intuitive and predictable. You can go from point A to point B without much effort.

Indore, my hometown in India, or for that matter most cities in the World that are not developed on a grid pattern, can be called a maze. It is not easy to navigate unless you have a GPS or have intimate knowledge of the place. The city has grown without a planned layout, so to go from point A to point B, you need help.

Grid and maze analogy is a simple way to contrast something intuitive, simple and well-planned to something non-intuitive, complex and in some cases over-planned.

It’s as much applicable for designing products, and even websites and presentations. The most useful designs are the ones that are simple and intuitive. Design that makes the outcome second nature. The design that makes product easy and pleasant to use. The design that doesn’t need a manual (which is equally complicated) to explain how to use your product.

The key is to understand who your customer is and then design your product in a way your target customer finds it pleasant to use. Anything, no matter how complex it is, should be simplified to a level your customer finds it easy to use. Don’t kill the sophistication, hide it or present it in a way that is easy to consume for your customer.

My engineering mindset often pushes me in the direction of sharing with clients the amount of sophistication that went into the technology and technique to extract actionable insights. It is important for the client to know that there is science and data behind what they are using so that they can build trust on the outcome and they use it to make a critical business decision. We present it in a way that is simple for a marketing person to understand the engineering behind our product.

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