Simple is a superpower

It’s pretty easy to build something complicated. But making that complex thing simple is really hard.  Really f***ing hard.  Don’t believe me?  Look no further than Apple. Their products, while super sophisticated and complex by nature, are simple in terms of their interface and interaction with humans.  Simple interface, simple design, simple to use and understand.  In fact, Apple has an almost religious belief in making things simple, which is no easy feat.

Case in point: AppleTV’s remote.  It has a total of 7 buttons.  Compare that to a typical TV remote, which usually has > 40 buttons.  7 vs 40.  And which is easier to use?  Despite it’s measly 7 buttons, the AppleTV remote is wicked powerful, and easier to use for any action.  Want to display captions?  Swipe down and then up, select.   Try figuring out how to display captions on a regular remote.  Not easy.

Simplicity also means easier to use in the field

XForms is also designed to be simple, because we understand what its like to work in the field. We know what its like to travel long distances, deal with shitty weather, equipment malfunctions, running out of supplies in the middle of nowhere, trying to look at tiny text on a tiny screen in bright sunlight, trying to enter information into a machine with gloves on while it’s 10F outside and the screen barely moves, when the wind whips up and blows dirt in your face, and more.

Been there, done that.

Less is more

That’s why we focus on simplicity.  Fewer buttons, fewer options, and straightforward screens and controls.  Because a digital field form is something that needs to be minimized and automated as much as possible, to allow the field tech to enter their details fast, and then get out of the way, so that the field tech can continue doing their thing.

In the field, there is no perfectly controlled office setting

The above is something that most software developers just don’t get.  They will build something that might make sense in a controlled, comfortable climate-controlled environment, where there’s no snow or rain, no bright sunlight glare, no cold wind whipping into your bones, no 100+ degree weather with sweat dripping down your face and onto a device screen, no equipment breakdowns, no deydration problems, and no issues with batteries, supplies, or cell coverage.  Just a perfect office setting.

Many software dev shops don’t understand this

What these types of developers don’t understand is that there is no such thing as a perfect office setting when it comes to field work.  You can prepare and plan your ass off, and yet something will inevitable go wrong. That’s just the way it is.  As a field tech, you have to be prepared for that. And the last thing a field tech wants to do is deal with a pain-in-the-ass field app just to please upper management.  Especially if it’s something that takes some effort to learn and use.

Bottom line

Make apps easy to use by having fewer options, fewer buttons, and less clutter.  Build out an intuitive workflow. Use standard/common icons. Take a less-is-more approach.

That’s what we’ve done with XForms.

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