Modular vs restricted product design

July 11, 2020 2:28pm

After spending past months thinking progressively more and more about designing the system to be modular as much as possible, it's funny when going back to designing something "restricted", a product that aims to deliver as conrete as possible value, as quickly and as obviously as possible. You actually want to remove any and all ambiguities how your product is to be used and to what purpose, what its goals are and motivations/incentives connected to its existence.

With modular design you always try to reach the next level of abstraction, to create those "sockets" between modules as flexible as possible, and restrict the system just enough for it to be viable for usage and possible for technical implementation. You rarely care about concrete storage, data structures, version of packages that modules might use, I mean, yes, you think about all of those at some point in time, but thoughts about them flowing and simply being replaced by next thought, and the one after that, and the one after that... and within that flow you try to capture the essence, the abstraction that is constant and to use that to build around.

With normal products, such as the one I started two days ago, you want to virtually slap your user for using your product wrongly. Reward them for "being the good guy" and following rules, but warn them when they misuse it, and especially make them pay when they try to abuse it. On this specific topic I'll be writing in a separate article about the project once finished.

In both cases, there is an implicit process of "figuring things out", being lost in the dark, stumbling with ideas and UI proposals, realizing that UX is illogical and hard, and after iterating for some time, a sudden moment when things fall into their place - you've successfully optimized your product for its intended purpose. UI is good, familiar, nice looking, UX is quick, easy, well laid out and connected with other functionality, and overall you manage to do what the product was conceived for. They are different kinds of beast, but the hunt remains similar.