Simplify! Simplicity may be the most important usability design
principle as well as being the common thread through many other
design principles. Simplicity of design not only optimizes business
and the user
experience but also simplifies software development, deployment,
maintenance and support. User
centered design is an iterative process of enhancement,
refinement, and simplification. The user centered design process
leads to simpler, elegant, and powerful designs that are innovative,
easy to learn, easy to use, efficient, compelling, and aesthetically
While feature rich applications and information rich web sites
can be a challenge to design, a well structured application or
web site can still be approachable and usable for both the novice
and experienced user. Simplicity does not mean simplistic solutions,
lack of functionality or limited information.
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo
"Our mantra was simplicity" Donna Dubinsky, 3Com's Palm
"Keep it simple and good things will happen" Jack Trout
(1999) - The Power of Simplicity.
"Very often, people confuse simple with simplistic. The nuance
is lost on most." Clement Mok, Chief Creative Officer, Sapient.
"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary
so that the necessary may speak." Hans Hofmann.
"Simplicity is not an end in art, but we usually arrive at simplicity
as we approach the true sense of things." Constantin Brancusi.
"Simplicity is the outward sign and symbol of depth of thought." Lin
"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the
complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity." Charles
"Things should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
"Simple things should be simple and complex things should
be possible." Alan Kay, Disney Fellow and VP of R&D, The
Walt Disney Company.
"Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge."
"Simplify, simplify, simplify." Henry David Thoreau.
"If you can't describe it simply, you can't use it simply."
"To simplify complications is the first essential of success."
George Earle Buckle.
"Simplicity is the soul of efficiency." Austin Freeman.
"...it is simplicity that is difficult to make." Bertholdt
"Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect with minimum
- Dr. Koichi Kawana, Architect, designed the botanical gardens
"See it big, and keep it simple." Wilfred Peterson.
"The whole is simpler than the sum of its parts." Willard
"Sometimes one has to say difficult things, but one ought
to say them as simply as one knows how". G. H. Hardy.
"Perfection, then, is finally achieved, not when there is
nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
Antoine de St. Exupery.
"Make all visual distinctions as subtle as possible, but still
clear and effective." Edward R. Tufte (1998) - Visual Explanations.
"Persuading through Simplifying - Using computing technology
to reduce complex behavior to simple tasks increases the benefit/cost
ratio of the behavior and influences users to perform the behavior."
B.J.Fogg (2003) - Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change
What We Think We Do.
"In a medium already famous for 'information overload,' simplicity
is a rare and wonderful find." Jennifer Flemming (1998) - Web
Navigation: Designing the User Experience.
"Simplicity: The New Competitive Advantage in a World of More,
"The paradox of simplicity is that making things simpler is
"Simplicity is power. The power to do less of what doesn't
matter and more of what does."
"Simpler companies are user centered. They adapt to the needs
decision makers." Bill Jensen (2000) - Simplicity.
"Kanso (Simplicity): A key tenet of the Zen aesthetic is kanso
or simplicity. In the kanso concept, beauty and visual elegance
are achieved by elimination and omission."
"Simplicity is powerful and leads to greater clarity, yet it
is neither simple nor easy to achieve." Garr Reynolds (2008)
- Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery.
"The Mother of All Qualities: Simplicity"
"Of all the principles articulated in this book, simplicity
is the broadest and perhaps the most fundamental." Paul Clements
(2000) - Constructing Superior Software.
"Simplicity plays a central role in all timeless designs.
We appreciate solutions that - all other things being equal - solve
problems in a clear, economical, fashion. The most powerful designs
are always the result of a continuous process of simplification
"The importance of simplicity can hardly be overstated. In
fact, the sheer simplicity of an elegant solution is often its most
startling and delightful aspect."
"Reduction through successive refinement is the only path to
simplicity." Kevin Mullet and Darrel Sano (1995) - Designing
"The path to simplicity: It's not always possible to keep
a Web-based application simple. There are some incredibly complicated
applications out there, for good reason. Despite this, designing
the obvious means striving for simplicity." Robert Hoekman
Jr. (2007) - Designing the Obvious: A common sense approach to web
"Simplicity is achieved when everyone can easily understand
and use the design, regardless of experience, literacy, or concentration
level. Basic guidelines for improving simplicity are: remove unnecessary
complexity; clearly and consistently code and label controls and
modes of operation; use progressive disclosure to present only relevant
information and controls; provide clear prompting and feedback for
all actions; and ensure that reading levels accommodate a wide range
of literacy." William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler
(2003) - Universal Design Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance
Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design
Decisions, and Teach through Design.
"Keep it simple: In general, interfaces should use simple
geometric forms, minimal contours, and a restricted color palette
comprised primarily of less-saturated or neutral colors balanced
with a few high contrast accent colors that emphasize important
information. Typography should not vary widely in an interface.."
"Design principle: Take things away until the design breaks,
then put that last thing back in." Alan Cooper (2007) - About
Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design.
the book is a manifesto to make the Web atone for
the sins of computers and regain a level of simplicity that can
put humanity at peace with its tools once again." Jakob Nielsen
(2000) - Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity.
"Three Tips: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify."
"Throughout this book, we've been evangelizing simplicity,
but ironically, the practice of simplicity is not simple. It is
easy to build a bulky design by adding layer upon layer of navigation
and features; it's much more difficult to create simple, graceful
designs. Paring designs to essential elements while maintaining
elegance and functionality requires courage and discipline."
Jakob Nielsen (2006) - Prioritizing Web Usability.
"Think simple as my old master used to say - meaning reduce
the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to
"Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true
value of any work of art." Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect.
"Eloquence Through Simplicity: The guiding principle in dashboard
design should always be simplicity: display the data as clearly
and simply as possible, and avoid unnecessary and distracting decoration."
Stephen Few (2006) - Information Dashboard Design: The Effective
Visual Communication of Data.
"There are two ways of constructing a software design. One
way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies.
And the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no
obvious deficiencies." C.A.R. Hoare.
"One of the great skills in using any language is knowing
what not to use, what not to say. ... There's that simplicity thing
again." Ron Jeffries.
"Simplicity design axiom: The complexity of the information
appliance is that of the task, not the tool. The technology is invisible."
Donald Norman (1998) - The Invisible Computer.
"Simplicity: An interface should be simple (not simplistic),
easy to learn, and easy to use. It must also provide access to all
functionality of an application. Maximizing functionality and maintaining
simplicity work against each other in the interface. An effective
design balances these objectives." Microsoft (1999) - Windows
User Experience: Official Guidelines for User Interface Developers
Edward de Bono's Ten Rules for Simplicity:
1. You need to put a very high value on simplicity.
2. You must be determined to seek simplicity.
3. You need to understand the matter very well.
4. You need to design alternatives and possibilities.
5. You need to change and discard existing elements.
6. You need to be prepared to start over again.
7. You need to use concepts.
8. You may need to break things down into smaller units.
9. You need to be prepared to trade off other things
10. You need to know for whose sake the simplicity is designed.
Edward de Bono (1999) - Simplicity.
John Maeda's ten laws of simplicity:
1. REDUCE - The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful
2. ORGANIZE - Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.
3. TIME - Savings in time feel like simplicity.
4. LEARN - Knowledge makes everything simpler.
5. DIFFERENCES - Simplicity and complexity need each other.
6. CONTEXT - What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely
7. EMOTION - More emotions are better than less.
8. TRUST - In Simplicity we trust.
9. FAILURE - Some things can never be made simple.
10. THE ONE - Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding
John Maeda (2006) - The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology,
"Good design, like good writing, is simple and economical.
Simple design makes the product easier to maintain and use. No
will enable us to create simple designs; they are the result of
creativity, false starts, and hard work. But when we can achieve
most of our design objectives while making something simple, our
results are likely to be good".
"Both the internal design and the user interface can have
simplicity, but the interaction between the user and the program
is what concerns
us here, and frequently we have to sacrifice the simplicity of
internal design to make the user interface simple".
user expects that his programs be no more complicated to understand
Paul Heckel (1982) - The Elements of Friendly Software Design.
"We're humans first, beginners or experts second." Clifford
Nass, CBC - Quirks and Quarks.
"A well-designed and humane interface does not need to be
split into beginner and expert subsystems" Jef Raskin (2000)
- The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive