100 slide PPT decks.
Web pages with 100 links on a single page.
Blogrolls with 75 blogs.
A del.icio.us page with hundreds of tags.
An offer in an ad with Offer A, Offer B, and Offer C.
We are inundated with choice and we’ve been trained to believe this is preferable to having less choices. But is this true? When we design web architecture, for example, we’re often reworking sites that have been around for years. They have had pages and links added here and there, over time, by a variety of people with a variety of skills. Often the original vision, if there was one, has been lost. The result is an improbable confusion of choices and a greatly increased likelihood that the visitor will bail out rather than wade into the information quagmire. So how do you fix this?
Who hasn’t presented PowerPoint decks that are too long? After all, we have a lot of valuable input, strategic insight and industry knowledge. Shouldn’t we make sure we deliver all of it?
I can go on, but one thing is becoming increasingly clear in the design world: With a bewildering number of choices everywhere we turn, it has become vital that we get better at delivering information, at the level of complexity that is appropriate for the circumstances.
So we find a way to parse the choices, create hierarchies and sub-groups and only display the top levels. If it’s a web site the vistor can select their category and dig as far as they want. If it’s a presentation, present the top level ideas and let the discussion take you to the details. Know your strategy and use it as a tool, not a report.
As marketers and advertising creators, we are partially responsible for the thousands of messages each of us is exposed to daily. These numbers will only rise. To stand out and deliver an extremely compelling message we need to become experts at simplification and information design.