The Matter of Simplicity in Design

When you’re about to embark on creating your own designs or having someone do it for you, at first you will feel like it means the world to just put everything you can think of right then and there. You’ll want to have information here, an icon there, your logo right up there, and of course a huge set of call-to-action text that just screams, “Do what I say, right now!” We may just be describing the typical, quite “loud” promotional poster but this could easily be just as much any designed material that had gone far too busy in itself.

However, in our day and age where human beings’ attention span is lower than a goldfish’s, you might have to rethink how “busy” designs should be – or rather, how simple they ought to have been from the start.

Now simplicity has long been among the basic design principles and has been championed by many, not just designers. You might have heard even of the phrase “Keep it simple, stupid” coined by NAVY aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson back in the 60s. The phrase has certainly stuck since and for the reason that simplicity gets things moving.



When you think about it even more, simplicity is about focus. Focusing on what problem needs to be address right at this very moment, focusing on what your users or customers need, or focusing on what valuable information should rise above the rest – find what you need to accomplish through design, and concentrate on that aspect. One classic example is Google’s landing page. The largely plain white background is merely occupied by a small space with its logo and search bar, and a bit of minute settings on top. It’s simple, it’s straightforward – go ahead, start your search.

Visual hierarchy

Simplicity however does not necessarily pertain to extreme subtraction. The goal for simplicity is to have as little as possible but without stripping away its core facets. Removing and lessening elements isn’t just random, you strip away those that could just be non-essential and clutter the space. “Less is more” as they say because with less clutter, there is less confusion and with less confusion, there is more action, more outcome.


Simplicity also helps with providing longevity for designs. We believe you simply don’t want to ride on the most recent trends or be “in” with the permeating fads, or last just as long as these usually do. When too many elements are crammed into one design, chances are not all of it might remain relevant as time passes and the business or the design style matures. Cutting out the non-essentials not only reveals the most important elements you need to convey, but also the ones that will most likely remain relevant for a long period of time.

Convenience, Reduced Complexity

Always at the receiving end of a designed material or object is a viewer or user, and if they’re not able to perceive or use it as intended, then design has not done its job. Functionality must also be addressed along with the aesthetic to provide a balanced, seamless experience for users that are most likely on the go and looking only for a quick glance into what they’re doing.

Products, objects or materials that are very simple will have the competitive edge in that users can easily use it and go; essentially, just giving them what they need and fulfill it in the least complex way possible. Say goodbye to being told to hold on the line three times, as you’re being transferred from one department to another to get the answer to just one simple question. (Do this, and you’ll end up with a lot more haters than users.)


Conclusion: Beauty in Simplicty

These are but a few points of why simplicity matters in the realm of design. Whether you are a designer or looking for something to be designed, there is an undeniable beauty in simplicity. Designs made simple achieve the balance of looking good and working well. As there are little to no distractions, viewers can concentrate and get what they need immediately, and therefore the businesses and entrepreneurs behind achieve their goals too.

Note however that simplicity does not mean lacking interactive elements that border on being fun and delightful. Rather, it is in the delicate art of providing the same fun and delight without having to throw so much in their faces, so much complications and so much questions.

Don’t overdo your design, and your users won’t have to overthink either.

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