Design

Konmari UX: how to tidy up your product

The Konmari Method is a framework to help individuals tidy their home.

Most people know the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by New York Times Best Seller Marie Kondo. But many of her philosophies from apply for product and ux designers.

Visualize your destination

Konmari believes her method helps people create the they want instead of the lives they happen to have. She says to visualize their life and design their home to fit that future.

Designer and teams who start with a clear vision of what they value and where they want to take the product move happier and faster. Design and prioritization decisions are much easier because everyone is working towards the same goal.

Keep only what matters

Nostalgia in business is not your friend. We are tempted by our emotions to keep clothes and things that once, but no longer, had deep value or purpose in our lives. We are tempted to keep items that were gifts and pants from decades ago that might fit again someday. Holding onto these things weigh us down at home and at work.

Old code and ux patterns often live on longer than should. It’s natural for us to get attached to features that cost a lot of money to develop or that took great efforts to ship, even if they no longer serve the business or users.

Sometimes we keep old features around because we are afraid to let them go. They are familiar, predictable, and help us feel safe. Holding onto software for nostalgia alone slows down teams and costs money and cognitive load to maintain. It also weighs us down.

Make content accessible

Konmari recommends folding all items in drawers so they can be laid out side-by-side like a filing cabinet, rather than stacked like pancakes. This lets you see every item in your drawer at once and helps you pick out the item you want rather than whatever is on top.

Product designers should do everything they can to avoid hiding important content and UI from users, even when it’s easy. Instead of hiding choices behind dropdowns, menus behind hamburgers, and content behind tabs, I look for ways to make my most content and UI elements in my visible without being overwhelming. When designing, I like to ask myself, “if I can hide this behind a click or hover, does it need to exist at all?”

Design by category, not location

Often in our homes and UI, items of similar categories are stored all over the home or product. I have seen many people store some jackets by the front door, some in the coat closet, and also in the bedroom closet. This means, when we are looking for our coat we have to think about three different locations each time.

You can think of your like a house and each section (tab, menu item etc) is like a room in the house. It’s tempting to only work on one section at a time, but your home and product need to work as a wholistic system if you want to realize your goals.

If the part of the product you’re working on needs a new form field pattern, do a short inventory to see if this problem exists elsewhere in the product. Take the opportunity to propose a redesign of the component that improves the overall quality, flow, and system of the entire product.

Applying the Konmari method has helped me take a focused and thoughtful approach to the system and product design in my work.

If you enjoyed this post, check out Digital Konmari: tidy up your computer.

Nina Mehta is an Indian American writer and product designer in San Francisco. She started writing online in the 90s and began her career in journalism near sweet home Chicago. Nina has since lived and worked in Berlin, London, and Tokyo.

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