The Law of Conservation of Complexity

Remember sixth standard Physics when we first learnt about energy and fundamental laws? One of them was

Law of Conservation of Energy

The law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor be destroyed. Although, it may be transformed from one form to another.

In a closed system, i.e., a system that is isolated from its surroundings, the total energy of the system is conserved.

What is energy? Energy is defined as the capacity to do work in physics. We know that energy exists in different forms in nature. We also learnt about various forms of energy — heat, electrical, chemical, nuclear, etc.

Now let’s see this as an analogy in terms of UX.

What do we do in UX? We simplify the underlying complexities, streamline them in a fashion that the efforts taken by a user is reduced to minimum.

While designing systems, it is likely to happen that you hit a point where no further optimization of the processes are possible. It becomes a closed system, and as a designer, you try to lay it out in a way where user sees a minimal effort. Here is where you would want to talk to the business about using shortcuts like auto reading SMS/ Emails, Mining cookies, Customer Data Platforms, Social Media, etc. We try and find variety of ways to passively fetch information, so that filling them is less of a hassle for users and at the same time we could curate a set of recommendations and pre-empt them. The complexity of the need of that data remains the same. We change its form to make it easy, fun and usable.

This is what I call law of conservation of complexity. The total complexity of the system is conserved, it may be transformed from one form to another.



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