Many startups talk about keeping things simple, almost like a badge of honor. When trying to solve a problem, present a message, or interacting with a user, complexity is the natural response. Humans, especially engineers, enjoy providing comprehensive solutions that meet the needs of as many people as possible. Or do they? On average, making something simple and good is much harder than making something merely good.
Here are several areas where I’ve seen startups have difficulty with simple but good:
- Elevator Pitch – More often than not, elevator pitches are too complicated and don’t leave the recipient with a decent understanding of the idea (see Offline Analogy to Describe a Startup)
- Messaging – Quick, go to five startup sites and read their homepage or most recent press release. How clear is the message? How much jargon and corporate-speak is used? Overwhelmingly, startups struggle with clear messaging.
- Metrics – Typically, too many numbers are tracked making the important metrics less meaningful and rendering the other metrics more likely to be glossed over (see Metrics Tracking Based on Startup Scale)
- User Experience – Often, the user experience is the most difficult to make simple and still good. Making a product intuitively obvious to the casual user is more art than science, and few people understand it.
Delivering simplicity that is also high quality throughout a startup is hard. Very hard. The best entrepreneurs follow the idea of Occam’s Razor: “simpler explanations are, other things being equal, generally better than more complex ones.”
What else? What are some other areas that startups have difficulty delivering simple but good?