Please Don’t Give Me Options

I went to the drugstore to buy new shampoo. They didn’t have my regular brand anymore so I had to select a new brand. But which one? Shelf after shelf of shampoos surrounded me and taunted me. I had any useful criteria  to select one. I suspected that most of them were the same formula in different colour bottles but I couldn’t be sure. Spending two euros to buy an everyday product became a brain-taxing challenge.

What I needed in the drugstore was a big sign that said “This is the shampoo for everyday men like YOU”. Below the sign would be a marble pedestal, upon which a glowing bottle of shampoo would just want me to purchase it. No choices. Just an easy solution.

You’ve been there right? Whether it’s pasta or water or digital cameras or mobile phone plans, we are burdened either with choices that are inconsequential or with choices that we are ill-equipped to make.

Worse even is the choice some software gives you when you download it (“professional version or extended version?”), install it (“Where shall our product install its Quidjibo data?”), or run it for the first time (“Would you like classic mode or postmodern mode?”). I want to defiantly say, “I don’t know, I’ve never used your software, just do all the defaults for me please”.

I try hard to keep Poker Copilot free of options. Every time I add an option I feel like I’ve failed slightly in the user interface design and implementation. People want the option to increase the font size? The hand replayer speed? The keyboard shortcuts? Then I’ve probably done a poor job in that part of the program. Instead i consider improving how it works so that more people are satisfied with the defaults. Naturally some options are helpful. But most aren’t.

This mentality drove the design of the new Hand Replayer 1-click video recorder. When you click “Record” there are no options. You are not asked where to save the file, what to call it, what type of video encoding to us, or what resolution you want it. You shouldn’t have to know about these things. Instead I copied the approach used by taking screenshots on the Mac – press [Cmd] + [Shift] + 3 and a screenshot is immediately saved onto your desktop with the word “Screenshot” and the current date and time in the filename. Likewise with Poker Copilot’s recorder. The recording starts immediately. The file is saved to your desktop with the poker room name and the game number. It is in a video encoding liked by both QuickTime and YouTube.