Simplicity in Design

“Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
~Steve Jobs

The fundamental elements of any kind of design application are here. While Jobs is talking about product design, cleaner thinking and simplicity are key tenements to all successful design solutions – and even more important is the end goal: affecting change. Things like user experience, product sales, ROI or stakeholder buy-in are common goals of design.

It’s not the first time I have written about Jobs. Jobs was quite the pioneer. As a designer, I can relate to his focus on perfection, and simplicity sets the groundwork for people to create their own personal connection with the product – leading to memorability that is a key factor in success.

Similar to a “one-pager” or infographic that outlines a process giving the presenter something to speak to, simplicity in design allows the user, consumer or audience to create their own experience because the interface refuses to “get in their way,” or frustrate them. It abandons a dominant personality of content or visuals, so you can explore in your own way.

Simplicity always wins, because we spend more time connecting and experiencing, and less time figuring things out. With less clutter, there’s more time for YOU, the audience.

It’s so fascinating how simple can be so much harder than complex. Whether it’s me attempting to figure out just the right words to use to get my point across, or a painter figuring out the perfect placement for a single brushstroke – it takes a lot of work for a seemingly small amount of content to keep your point succinct and focused.

Never water down your message…

And when driving your message home, make it more memorable by confining key takeaways to 3-4 items. Any experience should generally not have too many ideas, icons, or concepts on the screen at the same time. Overwhelming the user is generally not a good thing…

Prioritize.

If you’re not careful, pretty soon everything becomes a key takeaway – and when everything is important, nothing is important.
Apply these concepts to many forms – from written to visual. Creating too many areas of emphasis (i.e. through color, size, shape, etc.) and what do you have? No emphasis.

Be the filter. 

You have to become the filter, and determine what the priorities are for your audience – let them take it from there, and create their own experience and connection. You’re aiming to make a personal connection with them, helping them navigate – when successful, they’ll be much more decisive, passionate and ready to take action – because they’ll know intuitively, what to do next.
Now THAT is how change can happen – and how to move mountains. Do the important foundational work, stay out of the way of the message, and have faith in solid, clean, simple design.

Less is more.

See you next time!
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[Mark]

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