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Friday, July 27, 2012

Paring It Down to Just the Basics | Stuart Elliott, NYTimes.com

“Simply,” “simple” and “simplicity” — along with like-minded thoughts that include “easy,” “honest” and “clear” — have become marketing buzzwords in response to three related trends: how busy life today seems, the growing complexity of technology and the increasingly complicated economic picture.
Oh so very true! And this article provides examples how various companies are marketing their products and services by promoting simplicity:
That has encouraged advertisers to woo consumers with promises to provide solutions that are meant as simple but not simplistic.
I like the trend, but I think the article is reporting only part of the picture.

First, while companies like Apple have certainly developed simple-to-use products, I wonder if some companies are latching on to marketing the  simplicity of their products without making much effort to actually enhance their simplicity. That's unfortunate (for customers), at best, and misleading, even dishonest, at worst.

I haven't researched that question. Just raising it as something customers -- and communicators -- should monitor.

And speaking of communicators, simplicity also includes simplifying communications. My impression is that more and more companies, agencies and organizations are trying to simplify the materials they produce (like instruction manuals). It certainly benefits customers when information about products and services is written in clear, concise (or plain) language. And there's still a long way to go.

And speaking of plain language, see Garbl's Plain English Writing  Guide. It describes in seven steps on how learn to improve your writing skills by using these plain-English techniques:
  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.



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