The Event Horizon of Efficiency.

It occurred to me after writing about budgeting our social media time that our appeal to become efficient has spiraled past its breaking point.

We have a toolbox of great web based applications to ensure we are efficient. Basecamp (affiliate link) for project management. Tungle for scheduling. Social Media for rapid response. Individually these applications provide amazing results. But when we rely on 5, 10 or even 15 applications to get from point A to point B we need to assess the situation.

What is the Event Horizon of Efficiency?

When a simple task becomes unnecessarily difficult. An approach may look efficient to you while rocketing toward your goal but, in reality, you have only succeeded in over-complicating the delivery.

Excess Optimization. Recently, I was transferring a website from WordPress.com to a self hosted solution. I setup FeedBurner to handle the e-mail subscriptions and RSS feeds. Disqus for the comment system. Google Analytics for web traffic insight. Then began looking into SalesForce for customer relationship management (CRM) to capture leads from a contact form. These are all superb applications in their own regard. But it creates a black hole of efficiency.

When confusion becomes part of the user experience you are failing.

You now have to open 4+ applications to run your website effectively. If you choose to integrate those applications into the WordPress dashboard it becomes more efficient. But you lose functionality. You either take more time working with each platform specifically and reap the rewards of total control. Or you accept a less than whole set of products in the name of productivity. Which do you prefer?

Take a look at something we all have experience with. The remote, or channel changer, to your cable provider. All you really need are 5 buttons to succeed in the act of watching television. Power, channel up, channel down, volume up and volume down. How many buttons do you think your remote has? Mine has 56. Most of which don’t even work with my system.

Somewhere during the research and development process someone decided to give every on screen menu function a physical button. When confusion becomes part of the user experience you are failing.

The solution: Disconnect

It’s time we step back from streamlining our process. When we strap ourselves into the chair we get tunnel vision. Running a full sprint toward launching a website. Closing a business deal. Or even writing a blog post. Slow down. It’s ok. Step away from the computer. Take a 15 minute break. Turn off your phone if you need to. Disconnect for a moment and regain your composure. Your insight. Your vision.

When was the last time you lost sight of a goal only to find you over-complicated the delivery? Were you able to learn from that experience?

2 Comments

  1. Jim RaffelReplyAugust 18, 2010 at 10:54 am 

    Love the TV remote analogy. If you travel a lot you will find the remote control in the average hotel room has significantly fewer buttons than the one in your home. There’s a “design for the masses” message in there somewhere I just can’t see it yet.

  2. Joshua GarityReplyAugust 18, 2010 at 2:30 pm 

    Exactly. I think it’s important to not design for everyone. Chances are you will end up with a bastardized version of what got you to where you are. That concept can be taken to design, business and even blogs. Less is more. Too much dilutes your service, product, etc.

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