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Noisy Interfaces are Bad Interfaces

Google is often lauded for its simple interface, and rightly so. Fewer options cluttering up the screen with a powerful under-the-hood engine makes for a pretty damn good customer experience.

It's rare, however, to see how much clutter on an interface negatively affects the customer's experience. I was searching for flights to Toronto over Thanksgiving on the useful, when the "more search options" link caught my eye. Wondering if they offered multi-destination trips, I clicked.

My brain did its best Keanu impression: "whoa," I thought. I was momentarily overwhelmed by the additional clutter the "more options" options brought to the interface. See for yourself:

Less | More

All of a sudden, there's grey shading, dropdowns, checkboxes, and radio buttons. Everything is in such a compact space that the eye doesn't know where to look. Kayak was smart to figure out what the large majority of the customers want--a simple city-to-city search--and hiding the rest. The decision to show less in an interface is often difficult to make ("but people will want to specify the times that they fly!") That decision pays off, though, with a much more usable and much less confusing interface.

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Hi, I'm Kareem Mayan. I co-founded eduFire, an online video tutoring company.

I've done time at ESPN and FIM.

I advise WorldBlu, helping them build democratic companies.

I moderated a council for Creative Good.

And, I helped bring Barcamp, a technology un-conference, to LA, which is where I live. I am now living and working in cool cities around the world.

More about me.

Opinions stated here are mine alone.

Contact: blog -at- reemer


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