Resolved: Simplicity



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The word “simple” is quite possibly one of the most overly applied adjectives in all of the design and development kingdom. It’s typically paired like a fine wine alongside other buzzy words such as “elegant” and “frictionless,” the latter of which really bothers me. The day software leaves you chaffed with rug burn, then you give me a call, because something is very, very wrong.

I’m not sure people understand what it means to call something a “simple” interface; I think they are lazily cribbing from the Cliff’s Notes of a Steve Jobs keynote. The definition of “simple” has a somewhat undesirable connotation - I don’t think most of us would declare our software to be “modest or innocent,” nor would we have people classify it as “not socially or culturally sophisticated” or “lacking in knowledge or expertise.” I’d like to think that my interface designs are no medieval milkmaid, but rather a worldly composite of my experience and all of the data I am privy to in this age of analytics. 

I think the misconception is that simple is the antonym of complicated - complicated generally being conflated with complex. I know it seems like just an issue of semantics, but the language that we use to describe our technology is quickly passed from one conference to the next.  

I think a better word might be “concise.” Convey all that you need to briefly and clearly. And for myself, I have made a resolution to be more clear and concise in my designs and in my life. Which might prove more difficult, considering the joyous mess of complexity in living a full life. 

Oh well. Who keeps resolutions anyway?