Less is more: Building simplicity into everything you do

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Keeping things simple means keeping your users in mind above all else.

People visit your website because they’re looking for something. The best thing you can do is give them what they want. Quickly.

Keeping things simple means keeping your users in mind above all else.

After all, they’re busy. They’ve got 1,000 things on their plates and they’ve stopped doing the other 999 things on their lists to find something out on your website. Don’t frustrate them; don’t make them sorry they chose you.

If you remember them with every click and with every piece of web content you post, they’ll return to your site. They’ll return if the experience was a positive one. If you keep both usefulness and usability simple, they might actually recommend you on another social channel.

(If you haven’t read Steve Krug’s book, Don’t Make Me Think – it’s a must read.)

I coded my first website back in 1996, and since then, have been a part over a hundred site designs for government, commercial, and association clients; you name it. And the word I always come back to is: simple. I can’t say this was something I figured out in my early days – I did code my first site on Geocities after all. Long live the Dancing Baby.

Today, we let visitors decide where they want to go on websites to get what they want. They expect to be in charge of their web interaction. And you know what they want most of all? Simplicity. If you don’t give it to them, they’ll go somewhere else.

During logo design projects, I always challenge people with the following task:

Sketch the McDonalds logo.

Now, sketch the Mona Lisa.

This has nothing to do with your artistic ability – it has everything to do with simplicity, and memorability. The ultimate goal of marketing and branding.

Here’s another way to think about simplicity: food. I think the best ones have just a few ingredients. What beats the classics?

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup?

Peanut Butter and Jelly?

Chocolate Chip Cookies?

No thinking to yourself, “I know that flavor but I just can’t put my finger on it…” or “it just needs a little more…” Legendary “Emperor of Chefs” Auguste Escoffier said, “The greatest dishes are very simple.” Yep.

Whether you’re a chef, designer, writer, or anything else, keep it simple. Show your target audience you actually understand what they need, and they won’t forget it.