The fluidness of lightweight frameworks, and the resulting increase in the number of web 2.0 services that arrive online each day, has spurred on the trend of labeling things as “simple.” But are they really simple? Einstein, who understood the complexity of the cosmos, once said “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Building a web service that does one thing, and one thing only, doesn’t make it simple. An easy-to-use web-based timer is just a timer. A task list is just a list of things to do. These services have no context outside of themselves, yet we herald them as revolutionary in their simplicity.
If these web 2.0 services are as groundbreaking as we hold them up to be, than why are APIs so increasingly common? We’ve divided our definition of simple into silos and connected them with a series of tubes called an API. The API should be all about getting at our data and mashing it into forms that facilitate experimentation and productivity. Instead, we’ve been using APIs as a crutch, a form of duct tape, to string together a series of services that will complete the whole of our needs.
Wouldn’t it be better to have one web-based service that aggregated the basic needs of a small business into one service? One login? One payment? Take your best task lister, time tracker, project plotter, invoice maker, and report generator, and intertwine them into one web-based project management service for small business. Simplicity is the compelling attribute of the interface that convinces the customer to adopt your service.
Our goal in redefining simplicity has been to see beyond the one-thing-equals-simple mentality, and challenge ourselves to assemble a collection of essential small business tools into one web-based service. Adopters of web-based tools are becoming more sophisticated and demanding by the day. It’s time we start evolving to meet these needs. Our grand experiment is Intervals, web-based project management for small businesses who, like ours, have a different definition of simplicity.
How would you redefine simplicity?