Would you pay more for less?

Scott Adams, the artist behind the Dilbert cartoon, wrote on his blog back in August about his desire to live in a more simple world — a world without so many options that he can stop wasting time and energy trying to make a decision. He rants about too many choices when booking travel reservations, too many features on his digital watch, and movie theaters with special seats and meals. From his post “The Less Feature,” discussing his travel preparations:

Over the next several hours [trying to find an airline ticket on Orbitz] I tried sorting by flight time, shortest route, and price. Then I tried JetBlue’s site because it’s not included in Orbitz. Then I tried United Airlines’ site because I didn’t know if they would have extra options, and I needed to check my miles. The flight I picked had all sorts of seating options and levels of travel that I needed to research. Then I needed to arrange the rental car, the hotel, and the airport pickup. Then I took all of the information and reformatted it in a way I could read. At some point in the process I crossed a line: The time to plan and book the trip took longer than it will take to fly across the entire country.

Adams continues on to talk about Apple, and how he believes they’re one company that is more in-line with his “Less Feature” desire:

Apple often gets the less features thing right. The iPad didn’t add a fast boot-up speed, it subtracted a hard disk. It didn’t add a touch screen, it subtracted a keyboard. You want to print? Forget it. The iPad is awesome precisely because it has fewer options. If I want more complexity I can purchase apps.

With an endless supply of applications you can download from their app store and the numerous models of computers, I’m not so certain Apple has the “Less Feature” perfected. However, I agree that they’re better at uncluttering their product lines than many other companies.

Where do you stand? Do you believe that too many options clutters up your daily experience? Would you prefer fewer options, or do more options mean you are able to find exactly what you need for your clutter-free life?

Thanks to MinimalMac for leading us to this interesting Scott Adams blog post.

58 Comments for “Would you pay more for less?”

  1. posted by Jasmine on

    I guess I’m one of the rare few that enjoys more features or more options. Perhaps it’s a consumerist mentality, but I like knowing that there are a million flavors of Doritos out there; I can try the ones I like and blissfully ignore the ones I don’t. The mere existence of flavors I don’t like doesn’t impede on my enjoyment of flavors I do. (Cooler Ranch, you were always the best. And you still are.)

    This isn’t to say that more is ALWAYS better. As the iPad shows, simplicity can be compelling. It may not have all the features I want from a tablet, but I don’t deny that it has a streamlined experience, and for what it does, it does very well. Just because a product isn’t for me doesn’t mean it’s a bad product (although in some cases it is). I’m just glad I have the choice — or I will, when more companies produce viable slate-style tablets better suited for my needs.

  2. Avatar of

    posted by s on

    @Ms. Stuck: I’ve been near where you are. I didn’t get stuck in bed, but I was overwhelmed with things I wanted/needed to do and just couldn’t get started on anything. I started with therapy and, eventually, decided that medication might be ok. I had to work through some different kinds and quantities, but I believe it has helped! Although I still suffer from depression, it’s much easier to get through each day, and I can focus on the main issues and even enjoy stuff, rather than getting caught up in all the choices.

    Best wishes to you.

  3. posted by Kimberly on

    Your time is worth money. It’s often better to pay $50 more for dishwasher (my consumer experience from this weekend) then spending 10 hours finding the PERFECT dishwasher at the LOWEST price.

    Also, too many choices is often debilitating and can lead to bad outcomes. I was at a restaurant recently and I commented to my friend that there were way too many items on their menu. I ended up ordering something that sounded good, but was actually terrible that I didn’t finish. I think the restaurant should pick their BEST 10 or 15 items and offer only those, instead of 40 possibly mediocre options.

  4. posted by suzjazz on

    Scott Adams has hit the nail on the head yet again.
    Great observations. Even though I do not own an iPad or and iPhone (I can’t afford them, which is just as well, since I am already wasting enough time on facebook and trying to program the various devices that seem to be required to live in the 21st century) I totally get Apple’s concept, and it’s a step in the right direction. There is no reason on earth that every device we use/own has to do everything but wash your car. I would pay more for a stripped-down item that meets my needs without adding a lot of extra bells and whistles. A good example is my electronic keyboard. My 10 year old Kurzweil electric piano has an excellent digitally sampled acoustic piano sound and weighted action (which means it feels like a real piano keyboard) It weighs less than 30 lbs and I can transport it easily. It does not have a million programmable synth sounds which I will never use on gigs. It has a few–organ, vibes, voices, strings. Well, the PC-88 is no longer made by Kurzweil. When my keyboard finally dies, I will have to replace it with a keyboard that weighs 50-60 lbs and has a bewildering number of applications I will never use.
    It is virtually impossible to purchase a stage piano (electronic) that is ONLY a piano and is lightweight and convenient to use with a good piano sound.
    (Sorry to get all technical and music-geeky on you all.) I would pay more to get such a piano if it existed. The touch-sensitive or weighted key action keyboards all cost $2500-$3000. You can’t really get anything decent for less unless you buy it used.
    I just have to pray that my keyboard lasts a few more years.

  5. posted by Ms. D on

    Actually, Jake, what Schwartz said in “Paradox,” was that we have to make decisions about how we will use the plethora of choice presented to us. He uses the terms “satisficer,” someone who has a list of the needed qualities in a thing and gets a thing that satisfies those requirements, and “maximizer,” someone who wants the best thing they can get. In the end, he concludes that we need to decide when to be a satisficer and when to be a maximizer. For example, it pays to invest the time being a maximizer when shopping for housing, for most people, but a satisficer when shopping for a basic item of clothing. While he starts with the premise that we are being overwhelmed with choices, he ends with a personal solution that allows people to have all the choice they want, where they want it (after all, clothing could be very important to one person, and housing very unimportant to another). While it doesn’t seem that this solution would work, try it. When shopping for something relatively unimportant to you, decide on the size, color, and price range before you go to the store, and buy the first thing that meets your requirements. It’s a lot faster, even with all the choices out there.

  6. posted by Bryan on

    I am willing to pay more for less in terms of food. Less added ingredients, no preservatives, no added color or dyes, less wasted packaging, etc.

    Ice cream used to only have milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla or chocolate for flavoring. Look at ice cream today and you cannot even pronounce some of the ingredients. Sometimes less is more

  7. posted by Tabbycat on

    I don’t like to many options either. This is exactly the reason I never want to fly alone. the first and last time I flew my bf planned everything so it was easy. Whenever I decide to take my trip to Cali to see my best friends I am taking a train there with no stops. I don’t care if it will take three days

  8. posted by Karma on

    I was just thinking about this very thing – I have had an iPhone 3 for about two years and loved it, but for various reasons have switched carriers and now have a Samsung Intercept (and a iPod touch as I now lovingly call my former iPhone)

    Switching from the iPhone to a Samsung Intercept brought the simplicity of the iPhone fully to the surface. The iPhone operates off of two buttons – the home button and the lock button. Other than that every selection is done by touch. The Intercept has seven buttons on the front, not including the volume and camera buttons on the sides (or the slide out keyboard). You need to use various combinations of those buttons in using various features and apps, and it is a pain to navigate compared to the iPhone’s navigation.

    I’m not a big Apple fan, but with the iPhone they really hit the mark on out of the box usability and simplicity of function.

    Uncluttered it is not (for me), because organizing the apps on the screen gets annoying pretty quickly and they tend to stay in whatever haphazard order I originally installed them.

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