Easy Sells. Simple Lasts

As I’ve thought more about the Keep it Simple, Stupid principle (KISS) I’ve become more aware of the distinction between “Easy” and “Simple”.

I’m not a linguist, but separating these has helped me clarify my thinking.

What do I mean by easy?

Perhaps fanciful, but I see “easy” is an emotional word. It invokes feelings of comfort and calm. Easy is much welcomed in a world where our daily tasks are energy zapping and difficult. Of the two, easy is probably the safer one to use to describe someone!

What do I mean by simple?

I see this as a logical word. It’s about quantifiably having only what we need for the job. It seems suited to describing systems and approaches.

Easy sells our services. Simple keeps them running.

Where should “easy” fit in to web design?

I’d say “easy” is clearly the concept we have to sell to clients and the experience they should have. We need to:

  • Find what difficulties they have and provide easy alternatives.
  • Make our building processes as easy as possible to follow.
  • Make our finished product easy for them to use.

All of this sounds like the bleeding obvious, but with web projects it’s easy to forget. We form a partnership with the client where they may have to do hard work to allow us to do ours. This creates hold ups and the potential for friction.

Assuming you agree that “easy” is what we need to associated with, we need to either help them with their tasks (providing content being the usual sticking point) or find ways to not have their difficulties connected with our service.

One solution there could be get enough detail to design the site allowing them to replace the dummy content after signing off. More on this in later posts.

What should be simple in web design?

I’d say there are two interrelated sides to this.

  • Effective designs lean towards being minimalistic, as there is an increasing overload of information online.
  • Simple keeps us focused on what target visitor needs in order to achieve the client’s business goal.
  • On the other side of this, the software used should be as optimal as it can be for the requirements.

The last one is usually a compromise. As an implementer, I rely on software that is not designed for a particular project. There’s always unused code on front end pages and even more on the admin side.

Strictly adhering to the KISS principle, the static sites I manage where owners never update themselves should probably be HTML sites where I can understand every part. Not my WordPress stack running over half a million lines of codes I don’t understand and have no control over.


Isn’t it too easy to create business problems?

I’ve often made the mistake of making things easy for myself rather than for the client. It’s lost me good will and probably work.

I’ve built sites that are more complex than they needed to be. It’s created technical issues in the long run and the design has not converted as effectively as it could have. These are all mistakes of my making, but I think they come from not having the distinction between easy and simple at the forefront of everything I do.

It’s also likely to be the influence of powerful marketing. In WordPress we are bombarded by new products promising to make website building faster and easy than ever before. There are business advisors running courses on how to get better clients, stand up for ourselves and charge more.

Of course! We are the sales target. It’s their job to sell us the promise of an “easy” life, but perhaps the route lasting ease is through working to make things simple.


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