I've been practicing minimalism for years. Slowly getting rid of things that I don't need. But I realized only yesterday that I'm hoarding clutter in my own head. Getting stressed for no reason. So I've decided to get rid of that stuff.
Yesterday I was talking to my friend Magnus about how he managed his reading list. You know, that list of books and articles you keep in three different places that always seems to grow? Those amazon wish lists that never seems to have a thing you want to read right now?
Well Magnus didn't have one, and that got me thinking.
I've been bookmarking all these books, articles, movies and TV-shows all over the place. But how much time am I actually spending enjoying things from these lists? To be honest, most of the time I stress about them and maybe once in a while I prune. So what is the point of keeping a list of musts when they were supposed to be entertaining?
This is the essence of minimalism. Your stuff ends up owning you. When you spend more time on upkeep of your stuff than on enjoying them. It becomes a ridiculous waste of lifetime.
So I'm getting rid of my lists. I will no longer store articles, I'll read them or disregard them. I'll no longer add books to lists. Either I want to read it now, or I'll come back when I feel like it. I'm not about to stop consuming media. Instead I'm going to consume what I want, instead of what I should want.
The goal is to get down to one or two things I'm reading. One thing I want to see next. The rest can wait.
There's never enough time as it is. Why the hell keep holding on to distraction?
Whenever likeminded creative people try to innovate trends emerge. Ideas give birth to ideas. As ideas keep combining in the heads of creative people everywhere some ideas become more sticky than others. I’ll document some of the trends in user experience design I predict will become the norm in 2012. You can find my first post on the subject here. Another example from a 2011 app is the amazing full screen representation in Wren.
White space apps
When I first saw Wren I was amazed. It was focused and minimalist. Therefore I was shocked to see the full-screen button in the top right corner of the app, "Wouldn't that completely wreck the experience" was my knee-jerk reaction. Then I tried it and another trend was obvious, apps that scale without bloating their feature sets, or White space apps.
Why are White space apps different? Mobile.
The mobile revolution has some interaction and UI designers scratching their heads or pulling their hair trying to fit all the usual information. The current computing paradigm has relied on massive amounts of text and information tags for a long long time. Even programs that have really tried to rid themselves of rarely used functions or unnecessary amounts of help information have sometimes been stuck in contextual help hell due to the modus operandi of desktop interface design.
No more. Mobile has rid us of all these things. And some designers are provocative enough to realize that less really is more and simply scale their apps without adding more information or complexity.
Is this good or bad?
Only time will tell. But the dominance of mobile design today tells us a lot about what people like. I think it is less about the iPhone being a must-have product and a lot more about really smart and beautiful apps that are just complex piles of engineering on other platforms.
Simple is better. And using white space to focus the users attention on a sparingly chosen set of functions beautifully designed makes this clear. I believe these minimal products will in the future continue to trump the feature behemoths of yesteryear.