Tools should be simple

If you look at some software preferences and there is an advanced tab, sit and think about that for a minute. Think about the fact that most people will never see those preferences. Also, think about the fact that the advanced tab is a sign of failure.

It’s a failure to make a decision to cut something. To redesign it to work automatically in some fashion. A failure to figure out where a preference would fit in within the application in general. Too many options lead to confusing people. However, advanced preferences just scare people. The point of whatever you are working on is not to scare people off. Avoid the advanced feature creep at all costs.

When I worked on Adium I used to tell a few of the guys working on it that if the option was in the menu or was in advanced, it was just hidden. That was true 5 years ago, that’s true today. People just do not go into these things unless they are a part of the level 7 super geek club. If you’re reading this post you may already be a part of that club. (Or you may be my wife or her friends on facebook. :)

Think about the application you are working on. Think about the option you really want to add. If you think it needs to be in some kind of advanced preferences, then shelve it until you come up with a better solution. Otherwise you too will fail.

 
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