Lachlan's avatar@lachlanjc/notebook

Good products stand alone

Good products stand alone regardless of their price or complexity. Higher-tier products have more features to offer, and with more polish. While not going to all the same lengths, if you haven’t used the higher-tier offerings, simpler/cheaper ones should not feel lacking or compromised. You buy a product, not an entry in a product line to be constantly reminded of.

The M1 MacBook Air or iPhone SE are the perfect examples: if you haven’t used an M2 Air or iPhone 15, neither feel like they should be more. Their high-end counterparts are purely supersets of their design & functionalities. They don’t feature bad designs, even if their more expensive counterparts bring nicer ones. The iPad 10 provides a hardware counterexample. Its design is obviously compromised even if you’ve never seen an iPad Pro; the process of pairing the Apple Pencil reveals a lack of consideration, production design factors you shouldn’t face every day rearing their heads.

In software and visual design, this means: only use the surface area you need. Using extra surface area in a simple product to resemble more fancy/complex products dilutes/destroys the value. Simple apps don’t need tab bars just because tab bars are a common pattern; use just enough chrome to let the essence shine. With optional premium features in play, allow the entry-level product to feel sufficient even to users with no intention of upgrading.