Simplicity

“…Harry had long since learned that bangs and smoke were more often the marks of ineptitude than expertise.”

 – J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.*

In case you haven’t guessed from this website, I’m a huge fan of simplicity.

During the 19th Century, designers like William Morris were starting to criticise manufacturers who hid shoddy workmanship behind excessive ornamentation.

Does that sound like any businesses you know?

In 1908, the architect Adolf Loos went further in his famous essay Ornament and Crime.

“Freedom from ornamentation is a sign of spiritual strength.”

Of course, there’s a place for ornamentation – or art for art’s sake – but in business we are masters of hiding shoddy workmanship.

But I’m not interested in that.

Whether it’s web design or workflows, structure or storytelling … I want to focus on the ideas that matter.

In his book, Moving Heavy Things, Jan Adkins wrote this:

The more complex a machine or procedure or set-up becomes, the less directly it applies its power. Simple forces applied intelligently should carry the day. This is no snub of wile or cleverness or inventiveness, only a caution against dissipating your efforts in the bother and friction of complication.

The pull of complexity – of new features, tools and tactics – is insanely strong in today’s world, especially online.

But so often it fails to deliver.

We do more and more stuff, less and less well.

It takes strength to resist the siren song, but when we do – when we focus on executing the simple stuff day after day – we can build great things.

Dieter Rams – the legendary industrial designer – built a career and a brand on the simplest of ideas.

“Good design is as little design as possible.”

That’s why this site is so simple. I focus on what works.


 

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Nick Warren
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*I was reading Harry Potter in February 2000, before any other adult I know. If you can beat me, I’d be glad to know you.