Defensive Design for the Web: How To Improve Error Messages, Help, Forms, and Other Crisis Points
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Simplicity is dead. It’s been dead for quite a while, and mostly because simple doesn’t mean a whole lot. To some people simple means sparce. To others it means white. To others it means something else entirely.
What really matters is clarity. Clarity in visual design. Clarity in copywriting. Clarity in purpose, mission, and statement. Clarity allows someone to “get it” while simplicity only allows someone to “see it.”
We’ve been wrestling with this on the Basecamp signup page. This is how the “plan chunk” from the sign up page looked from February 1, 2004 until this morning:
And today we changed it to be chart-based instead:
You can click on each to see them at full size. You can see the actual HTML chart version on the
real Basecamp sign up page.
Now, at first glance the one with the big grey badges looks simpler. But is it clearer? The chart version provides additional context, is proactive in answering some frequently asked questions, and brings the Free and Personal plans into focus better than the grey badged version (the Free and Personal plans are small links at the bottom of that version).
So, while the grey badged version may be simpler in appearance, does it give me enough to make a clear decision? Does it give me enough of an edge to see the distinction between the plans? Does it tell me enough about what is the same and what is different between the plans?
We’re going to run with the chart version for a few weeks and see how that goes. We also plan on introducing some new features for certain plans so the chart system will definitely allow us to grow more consistently.
What do you think? Are you intimidated by the chart version? Are you turned off by the “that’s it?” feel of the grey badged version? Does one version make you feel like the product is more real or serious? What say you?