Simplicity Wins But It’s Not Without Its Challenges

Picking up your kids from school shouldn’t be a pain in the ass…

One of my latest ventures is a solution to the “waiting for kids at school” problem all parents face. In the U.S. it might be a little different than in Mexico, but the problem is universal: all parents wait a long time to pick up their kids at school!

This is not a problem I have, but a friend of mine does. So, my buddy and I created On Time to eliminate this pain.

No more loudspeakers and screaming

It’s the most simple idea I’ve ever worked on!

It works like this: Parents notify they are arriving via an app on their phone —> teacher receives notification on a dashboard in a tablet —> teacher sends child outside.

Yes, it’s really simple. So simple that teachers have stopped using the loudspeaker at the school where we have this working. I think it works because the process gets organized through and interface.

So far we saw an improvement in wait time of 5 – 8 minutes,  before it was 15 – 20 minutes on average.

Simplicity isn’t an easy sell

But as simple as it sounds there are challenges to getting schools and parents interested:

  1. People think it’s too simple to work and that nobody would pay for it;
  2. It’s lacking features;
  3. It’s too easy and won’t last (yes, I’ve been told this).

It’s a fact that people who don’t know anything about product design, or design in general, believe that anything simple needs to have a ton of features to be more useful.

It doesn’t.

One of the reasons we all love Apple products is because they’re designed with the user experience in mind, that means features that don’t add to the experience of making your life simple are scratched.

The best ideas are simple, not complex

Frankly, any fool can make things complex. It takes real wisdom to simplify.

What’s interesting is that the initial idea was not this simple. We assumed that teachers and parents would think it so simple they never use it or stop using it, so we thought about adding some gamification elements to it as a counter.

We concluded it wasn’t necessary after testing it live and scratched that plan, we’ll keep it simple.

Right now we’re still going through the challenge of getting schools interested in the idea, but the principle still stands: Simplicity sells, aim to make life simple. 

I’ll keep you posted on the progress. If you’re a parent, teacher or head of a school that wants to reduce your wait time, ping me and we’ll set it up 🙂