I find a lot of confusion around the two phrases – simplicity and quick to use. I find people replacing one by the other and trying to judge a tool’s design. Is every simple product quick to use? Are all quick to use products simple? I do not know, but I am sure that simplicity is a perception, the user’s perception.
I use the ATM not more than 5 minutes in a week. I do the transactions, maybe get a receipt or two and rush out of there. I use vim about 5-6 hours a day. I code in it, I write my notes, emails and this blog in it. I find both of them simple to use, but perhaps for different reasons. And maybe I would stopped using them if they borrowed features from each other.
I would hate to read manuals of how to use ATM and then spend time reading understanding it. It serves my purpose of specific transactions I want to do with it, and behaves like other ATMs elsewhere. I do not have to learn new things or give it different things to use it.
However, I would be disappointed if I could not use vim for all my writing. I am glad that it is extensible, it allows scripting and more importantly that it allows me two different modes. It is so simple for me today that I find using other editors a lot more difficult. In short I am happy that it does not behave like other editors and helps me better in getting more productive.
I think whether a tool is simple or not depends on the role it is going to play in the user’s everyday life. I cannot imagine that my Dad, who types about 30 words in a day, would enjoy vim.
If you are trying out tools that will be part of your productivity, do not judge only by how quickly you can start using them. They are usually the ones that will make you power users and not limit your evolution and improvement. Tools that seem simple, can very well frustrate you with their limitations in the future.
I do now know how to factors this in, but I am sure this will have to be considered when I am designing a tool. This is where I think the meaning of simplicity for a tool. And this is where designing simplicity in the tool starts getting complex.