Every app should be this easy.

Loren BurtonMarch 01, 2011

Just over a month ago, I shared my first Ruby on Rails app, Pocket, with Hacker News. Since then, I've been working on other projects so I haven't been able to spend as much time on development as I would have liked, but I still use the app every single day for my own note-taking needs.

During the course of design and development, I've loosely followed the the self-proclaimed mantra "so easy my grandma could use it" - i.e. I literally wanted this app to be so easy that my own grandma could, and would, use it for everyday note-taking and reminders. After all, the reason I began developing Pocket (and learning Rails at all) was because I was so frustrated with the inherent difficulties and lack of intuitive user interfaces of existing solutions.

The last time I visited my family, I accidentally left Pocket open in the browser. I stepped away from the computer for a few minutes, and to my surprise, this is what I saw when I returned:

My sneaky little sister, who just turned six a few months ago, had hijacked my Pocket! Not only did she figure out how to make new notes, she had figured out how to change the note colors, rearrange the notes, and edit the contents of existing notes. She did all of this with no instruction whatsoever (though it is possible she may have briefly spied on me while I used the application). If that doesn't exemplify ease of use, then I don't know what does. I dreamt about the day my grandmother would use Pocket, but I never once thought my little sisters, who are just learning to read and write, would be able to pick it up so quickly and effortlessly.

Every app should be this easy to use.

By the way, if your app requires an 80-page user manual, you might be doing something wrong.