Moving away from complexity

Back in the 80s and 90s when IVR’s became really popular (Interactive Voice Response – they’re the menu systems that ask you to press 1 or 2 etc when you call a call centre) they were made to be more and more complex.

There were lots of reasons for this. A business could now just have ONE phone number for all customers to contact them. The IVR then filtered them to the correct department.

But then they started to get used to collect data, such as how many people are calling about ‘X’. So even though there may only be one customer service department, you sit through another 6 menu options so the company can collect data on why you are calling.

And it got out of control. I called a Telco (that shall remain nameless) once, and I counted 7 different menus each with between 4 and 8 options before I finally got through to a person.

Fortunately, this is practice is gradually being stopped. Companies are waking up to the fact that just because technology CAN do something, it doesn’t mean it should do something. Complex IVR’s are horrible and companies are gradually replacing them with simpler versions with a single menu, or in some instances, no IVR at all (hooray!).

The same thing is starting to happen with websites.

Back in the 90s and 00s, websites became more and more complex until we started needing maps to find our way around a site. But like IVR’s just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you should.

And today I see companies opting for simpler and simpler websites that strip back to the information that is relevant, displayed in a simple to navigate structures, like this one from Prezi.

Sometimes, less really is more.