Natural and dumb is better than smart and unnatural

When you create something new for a client, don’t try to build the smartest thing ever! This simple rule is valid for websites, services or any element that is man made. The easiest example to illustrate this is the front door of a shop. The most stupid door is the one with a typical handle. People know how to interact with it. They know how it works because it’s natural and standard for them. It doesn’t create any excitement and it just a dumb door. Some shop owners and architect have decided to make doors that are smarter. That sounds ideal for the user. For example, in Bern, there is a little shop where the door opens automatically. That is smart! But the problem is that the door still has handles. So there is confusion when you try to open it. You put your hand to pull the door and suddenly it comes to your face. Finally not so ideal. Keeping the door dumb would have created fewer issues. It would even have created and less work. Because now, to help customers understand how it all works, the friendly folks of the shop had to put a sign to tell them not to try to open the door. Sound pretty complicated, no?


I’m not saying here that making things smarter could not provide extra values. Let’s keep illustrating this with the door example. The automatic door that opens in the middle like in bigger work well. People don’t have any signal that they have to interact with their hands on it. And you are not surprised. But to come to that result, you have to think a bit more than just making something existing smart. You have to re-think the interaction.
Thus here my simple rule when designing anything new or unusual:

If you haven’t money for the extra research, go for the natural and standard way of doing it.