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Cognitive Overhead, Or Why Your Product Isn’t As Simple As You Think

Excellent overview of the concept of cognitive overload. I have experienced many frustrations trying to explain some of the “simple” services that were referenced and now I know why.


Editor’s Note: David Lieb is co-founder and CEO of Bump, creators of the popular app that lets people share contact information, photos, and other content by bumping their phones together. Bump has been downloaded more than 130 million times.

It’s been hard to ignore the massive shift in the last decade toward simple products. The minimalist design aesthetic pioneered by Dieter Rams in the 1960s on alarm clocks and toasters was popularized by Apple and Google in the 2000s on iPods and search boxes. Soon after, Web 2.0 took over, yielding big buttons, less text, more images, and happier users. Startup accelerators and design gurus popped up proselytizing “simplicity!” and the rapid growth of mobile in the last five years has created an almost strict requirement for simple products that work on our new small screens and increasingly small attention spans. Some of the most popular products today (Twitter…

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