Design is Choice

Recently Google removed the “http://” portion of the URL in Chrome’s address bar. This change generated mixed reactions from users. Some like the change, others point out problems; for example, when you copy the address, “http://” is magically attached to the front, but what if you actually don’t want it? There’s no way to copy the URL without it now.

But see, this is one of those things that just doesn’t matter. Design isn’t about cutting waste–that’s too easy. Waste is something that has no value, so identifying and removing it isn’t a problem. Design is about choice–it’s about figuring out what matters most, and choosing to cut the rest. The stuff you cut isn’t waste, it’s just things that aren’t that important.

Getting rid of something like the “http://” text in the address bar isn’t so easy. It’s a choice between a simpler address that you look at and use all the time, and a more complicated address that has a few niche advantages like being able to cut and paste the URL more precisely. Google decided that the niche uses aren’t as important as a cleaner and simpler address bar, so they chose to cut it.

It’s impossible to create a simple product or a simple interface if every need and feature request is met–doing that that leads to clutter and bloat. Good design is about choice, and choice isn’t just about saying ‘yes’ to that one thing, it’s about saying ‘no’ to everything else, too.