French pilot and author Antoine de Saint-Exupery once wrote:
A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
This statement, to me is one of the most profound when it comes to design. The web, specifically, is cluttered with websites that are, well, cluttered. And while it’s necessary sometimes to have many items on a website, they can still be arranged to provide simplicity to the senses.
Yet there are many web designers who create beautiful, functional and simple sites. One of my favorite designers is Dan Cederholm. Just look at his work like Cork’d, Odeo, and Microformats. His own website, SimpleBits is a thing of simplicity and beauty. Dan shows us that even large, complex sites can still have simple design.
Truthfully, it’s quite difficult to create simple, functional designs. Designs that are clean, yet functional. Designs that remove all unnecessary elements while remaining elegant. Designs where the goal is meeting a few, very specific needs.
Many people believe that simplicity is the antithesis of success – especially with websites. They believe the more you have on your site – the more you make visible to the user – the more they’ll find and want to use or buy.
That might be fine for eBay and Amazon whose users expect innumerable options. But for most small businesses, simplicity rules. Simplicity is what helps you stay focused. And staying focused leads to more business success.
This morning I found a post about simplicity at Designers Who Blog, The Laws of Simplicity. The Laws come from the work of Professor John Maeda, from the MIT Media Lab. Take a look at his blog, he’s written some great posts on simplicity in design, business, technology and life.
The Laws of Simplicity
Law 1: REDUCE
The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.
Law 2: ORGANIZE
Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.
Law 3: TIME
Savings in time feel like simplicity.
Law 4: LEARN
Knowledge makes everything simpler.
Law 5: DIFFERENCES
Simplicity and complexity need each other.
Law 6: CONTEXT
What lies in the periphery of simplicity is deï¬nitely not peripheral.
Law 7: EMOTION
More emotions are better than less.
Law 8: TRUST
In simplicity we trust.
Law 9: FAILURE
Some things can never be made simple.
Law 10: THE ONE
Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.
Take a look at your business, at your website. Are there places you can simplify? Do you agree that simplicity can lead to greater success?