The Iceberg Issue.

In theory, it should be relatively trivial to follow a rule like this:

Keep it simple, stupid.

In practice, external simplicity requires a large dose of discipline:

  • You need to be able to understand the problem you are trying to solve, and then come up with an elegant solution.
  • You need to be comfortable swapping internal complexity for external simplicity.

Essentially, you are building this:


The vast majority of an iceberg (90%+) sits underwater, hidden from sight.

This is a great metaphor for building simple and usable products. It is necessary to do a massive amount of unseen work to ensure that the users’ experience is exceptional.

For example, we can take the conceptual idea of “settings”. A lazy way to handle different ideas in regards to a product is to make everything optional for the user. Add an on/off switch, give them various settings to customize the usage, and so on.

This is what B teams end up doing.

The problem is, most people don’t really give a shit about your product, they are using your product to do something else!

Nobody wants a to-do list app, but they do want to stay organized and get things done in a timely manner.

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole. ~Theodore Levitt

So let’s remember this, and create something that helps people solve their problems, and gets out of the way as much as possible.

So, speaking specifically about settings, when it makes sense, don’t give an option to the user.


They will thank you for giving them one less thing to think about.

This post was a collaboration between

Emanuele Faja, Kit Teguh

  • Emanuele Faja

    Emanuele Faja

    CEO at Mäd. Emanuele brings on board a passion for minimalist Italian design and a 21st-century management approach. He consistently helps clients create and maintain market leader positions.

    More posts by Emanuele Faja.

    Emanuele Faja
  • Kit Teguh

    Kit Teguh

    Digital Strategy @ Mäd. Spending more than half his life in Asia, Kit brings the local knowledge to the team. Believing that there is always much to learn, he instills a learning attitude in Mäd.

    More posts by Kit Teguh.

    Kit Teguh
The Iceberg Issue.
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