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Review of ‘Simple’
How To Simplify Things
 
Deborah Adler’s grandmother fell ill one day because it transpired that she had accidentally taken her husband’s prescription medicine instead of her own. She recovered. Adler wondered: How does such a mix-up happen? She took a peek into her grandparents’ medicine cabinet and found the answer: rows of identical small brown prescription drug vials, each one bearing a medicine label that was practically unreadable, even for Adler. 
 
Adler researched and learned that there’s an epidemic of people mistakenly taking the wrong medications—more than half of Americans have done so at one time or another. But, in spite of this, no one had thought of doing anything about those hard-to-read labels, on prescription bottles, that had been used for decades. 
 
Adler, who happened to have studied design, created her own test versions of different kinds of prescription drug bottles and labels. She sought to arrange the information in a logical order, giving prominence to the things people need to know most, at the precise moment they’re reaching for their medicine. Having read about cognitive schemes (a psychological term that refers to the ways people take in and organise information), she knew it was important to try to anticipate what people might want to know first, second and third. So, she decided the label should zero in on those three important facts: who the medicine is for; the name of the drug and dosage; and how to take it.
 
Adler divided the drug label into two parts separated by a thick black line in the middle. The critical information went into the top section, while everything else was relegated to the bottom. Next, she decided to rethink the shape of the bottles. On conventional rounded vials, it can be hard to read the wrap-around labels; you have to turn the bottle as you read. Adler thought: why can’t a medicine bottle be flat? She ended up using a flat tube that stood upright on its cap, with plenty of room for a large flat label that could be read at one glance.
 
Adler also felt that it was important to distinguish between medicine bottles of different family members who might be sharing the same cabinet. She thought about how she and her husband kept their toothbrushes separate by using different colours. Why can’t medicine bottles also be colour-coded? 
 
Adler created colour rings for each family member. The last change involved the warnings on drug labels—often, a source of confusion. Working with designer Milton Glaser, she replaced old instructions with new, more intuitive icons. (For example, a warning to pregnant women featured a silhouette of a pregnant woman’s body)
 
Adler’s efforts to create simpler, clearer drug packaging served as the basis of her master’s thesis; but soon, it became something more. After she presented a sample of her redesigned objects to representatives of the Target retail chain, Target bought the idea and rushed a new line of prescription drug bottles to market, in 2005. Adler’s ‘ClearRx’ prescription system has been used by Target pharmacies ever since. What Adler did was to inject clarity. Clarity is one of three things that authors Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn suggest we need to do, to make things simple. The other two are: empathise (with the user) and distil (the essence of what you want to achieve). 
 
Complexity is wreaking havoc in our lives. A US study shows that half of the gadgets returned to stores are in good working order, because customers can’t figure out how to operate them. Of course, complexity is sometimes wilfully created and perpetuated. 
 
Banks, credit card companies, insurers, telecom companies, etc, find complexity very rewarding. It helps them make money from the fine print that nobody can read or understand. Complexity creeps up on systems too. The United States tax code has “nearly tripled in volume during the last decade” to 3.8 million words; even tax officials cannot file their own returns. It’s worse in India. We urgently need simplicity, i.e., user-friendliness—no fine print, no clutter, transparency, ease-of-use, etc. 
 
Simple explains the complexity menace in detail and provides many real-life examples of simplicity that have led to great success—from the minimalist design of Apple products, to clutter-free home page of Google, to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to replace pages and pages of listings in the New York City directory with one phone number, 311, to cover a wide range of complaints and questions. An excellent read.

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COMMENTS

Sunil Rebello

1 year ago

KISS the acronym for Keep it Simple Stupid is very apt phrase for every thing we do today.
more and more we are innovating our systems and lives.
the way that our fathers and fore fathers lived is completely different from our lives.
it may be for good - as today we live longer and a more fruitful life.
some may have another opinion.
today with computers and the info age life is getting faster and faster and also giving us much more time to relax and put our feet up.
BUT DO WE TAKE IT?
do we run after more and more money.
DO WE DO WHAT MAKES US AND OTHERS HAPPY?

Nifty, Sensex trending up – Thursday closing report
As long as Nifty stays above 8,145, the market may head higher
 
We had mentioned in Wednesday’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex are looking weak and that a close above 8,150 can recharge the bulls. The Indian equity markets made gains after three consecutive sessions of losses which came in the wake of disappointing quarterly results and negative sentiments emanating from the Chinese markets. 
 
 
With positive cues from the Asian markets the indices in the Indian stock markets moved into an upward trend, which could carry into tomorrow’s trading as well.
 
For foreign investors one positive factor is that the rupee is likely to remain steady for the rest of the fiscal helped by strong macroeconomic fundamentals, which will lead to higher capital inflows and a comfortable balance of payment situation, says an India Ratings and Research report. 
 
"The key reasons for the expecting stability in the rupee are better macroeconomic fundamentals of the economy among the emerging economies, a comfortable balance of payment situation, the postponement of policy normalisation by the US Fed to December 2015 or maybe to 2016 and a healthy capital inflow," India Ratings and Research said in the report. The rating agency expects the rupee to trade in the range of 64.50-66.25 for the remainder of 2015-16. The rupee today opened at 64.74 as against the previous close of 65.03. 
 
Market analysts pointed out that lowered chances of a US rate hike, buoyant global markets and rising rupee value propelled the Indian stock markets higher on Thursday.
 
In Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed the day's trade up 1.15% while Hong Kong's Hang Sang rose 2.00% and China's Shanghai Composite index increased by 2.32%.
 
Both the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) and foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net buyers in the day's trade. According to data with stock exchanges, the DIIs bought stocks worth Rs291.73 crore and the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) picked up stocks worth Rs102.21 crore in the day's trade.
 
Sector-wise, only S&P BSE information technology (IT) index closed in the red. It slipped by 14.95 points.
 
The S&P BSE automobile index augmented by 417.16 points, capital goods index gained by 191.74 points, banking index surged by 178.34 points, oil and gas index rose by 136.88 points and metal index was higher by 105.33 points.
 
Major Sensex gainers during Thursday's trade were: Tata Motors, up 8.06% at Rs.380.70; BHEL, up 3.02% at Rs.211.70; Maruti Suzuki, up 3.01% at Rs.4,379.85; Tata Steel, up 2.94% at Rs.255.30; and Hero MotoCorp, up 2.46% at Rs.2,567.45.
 
The major Sensex losers were: Mahindra and Mahindra, down 0.86% at Rs.1,274.95; Wipro, down 0.86% at Rs.577.65; Hindalco Industries, down 0.85% at Rs.87.95; Hindustan Unilever, down 0.84%  at Rs.790.70; and Cipla, down 0.83% at Rs.672.60.
 
The top gainers and top losers of the major indices are given in the table below:
 
 
The closing values of major Asian indices are given in the table below:
 
The European indices were up by 1-1.5%.

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