We bought a Wii this weekend. Yes, I purchased 5 Wiimotes months before actually buying the machine they were designed for. The Wii is a brilliantly simple device. So much easier (and more fun) to use than the button-riddled controllers of its chief rivals, which explains why Wiis are still sold out at many retailers.
As the Wii has proven, a simple, usable design is the best design. Most users of most technologies don’t need every possible feature. And, increasingly, they are choosing to not pay a premium for them. Other examples of this trend include netbooks (simple laptops that rely on cloud computing power — see Clive Thompson’s excellent article in Wired 17.03), the XO Laptop (the netbook for the One Laptop Per Child project), Apple’s iPhone (just a touch screen), the Siftables I posted about previously, and now desktop applications themselves.
Photoshop used to be a big, expensive application that put a professional photography studio on your desktop. Come to think of it, it still is. But as features multiplied, it became harder and harder to use for simple operations. (Should I adjust the CMYK or RBG levels in this mask layer to reduce red eye?) Enter online photo editors.
cnet recently reviewed 15 of them and I was impressed. All of the basic features I have turned to Photoshop for (waiting 3-4 minutes each time as it boots up) are available, even including layers, masking, and plenty of effects. Most are free and work as simply as attaching a photo to your email message. So, if I need a quick picture for a blog post or my Facebook page, I can turn to one of these sites in a pinch and get some editing done quickly and efficiently. Simpler is better, and now simpler doesn’t have to be bad.