Something with many parts versus something with few or one part. Complexity maybe considered relative to skill of the person performing a task. In that case, it might be desirable or undesirable for something to be complex or simple (think Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on optimal flow). From the other side, designers often say it’s really difficult to design something simply.
If a person can easily accomplish an activity effortlessly or understand it, it is considered simple. A thing’s complexity or simplicity is judged by how easily it can be understood/accomplished.
A normally simple task like putting on one’s shoe can become extremely difficult in some occasions…
One could assume that users would gravitate toward simple instructions– so the farther along one is on a path to understanding, the more simple the thing may be considered to be.
Perhaps the more action a user takes, the more complex the experience becomes. The more steps involved in a set of instructions, the less they are considered to be simple.
- A popular toy/game in the 90s called Simon (based on the school game Simon Says) asks players to repeat a pattern that it gives off on its four panel display of lights/colors. It starts simply and gets more complex as players have to remember a longer pattern.
When something is ‘complex’ it is normally more expensive as it is imagined to have taken a lot more effort in its fabrication. For example, making lace is an extremely time-intensive practice and was/is considered more precious because of how complex it is to create.
Ikea instructions use simple pictures to illustrate complex assembly steps for their furniture. Though adding words might make it simpler for some, they would also lead to complexity or confusion for others.
“Complexity usually leads to confusion, which may lead to exasperation.”
It might be good to keep something challenging for a user in oder to maintain their attention and interest. For instance, if (when) driving becomes to easy or boring, a driver might be more prone to be make a mistake or do something dangerous because they forget how dangerous driving can be. In this case, it is necessary to keep a task challenging. Relatedly, people have the ability to master complex tasks over time or with practice.