A year with Simple: An honest appraisal

I’m a chronic early adopter. I sign up for betas without really understanding why I’m signing up. I throw myself at new software like a zealot, prostrate before the gods of technology.

So when I heard about an online-only bank that promised to put user experience (UX) at the center of their business model, I couldn’t resist. I signed up to be one of Simple’s earliest customers back in May of 2011. I finally got my invite in August of 2012. I’ve been a Simple customer ever since.

What follows is my experience using Simple as my primary bank over the past year. It’s critical and honest, and I hope it’ll be useful if you’re thinking of making the leap.

The Basics

Simple is not budget software or a financial service. Simple is a bank.  Their hope is that Simple replaces your current bank completely.

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Keeping users interested is a matter of flow

At the recommendation of a co-worker, I recently read Jesse Schell’s The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses.

Like most good writers, Schell is a master of synthesis. He elegantly weaves insights from a broad range of disciplines, including psychology, anthropology, economics, creative writing, filmmaking and of course the newest kid on the academic block, game design.

The Flow Channel, an elegant model for player (and user) interest

In chapter 9, “The Experience is in the Player’s Mind,” Schell introduces one of my favorite concepts in the book, which he borrows from psychologist Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi (pronounced CHEEK-sent-mə-HY-ee).

Czikszentmihalyi is famous for defining something he calls “flow,” about which he has written several influential books. If you’ve ever been so engrossed in a task that the world seems to fall away and you lose track of time entirely, you’ve experienced flow.

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