Monday, October 12, 2015

Good Design is Simple

I work for a software company, 1/3 of our staff are engineers and developers and we face real world problems that require a lot of strategic work and planning. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research on development methodologies, project management processes and workflow proficiency. There is a lot out there and most of it is subjective, opinionated and you're left to determine whats best for your situation. But there is one thing that can be applied to almost anything and that is...
Good design is simple. You hear this from math to painting. In math it means that a shorter proof tends to be a better one. Where axioms are concerned, especially, less is more. It means much the same thing in programming. For architects and designers it means that beauty should depend on a few carefully chosen structural elements rather than a profusion of superficial ornament. (Ornament is not in itself bad, only when it's camouflage on insipid form.) Similarly, in painting, a still life of a few carefully observed and solidly modelled objects will tend to be more interesting than a stretch of flashy but mindlessly repetitive painting of, say, a lace collar. In writing it means: say what you mean and say it briefly.
It seems strange to have to emphasize simplicity. You'd think simple would be the default. Ornate is more work. But something seems to come over people when they try to be creative. Beginning writers adopt a pompous tone that doesn't sound anything like the way they speak. Designers trying to be artistic resort to swooshes and curlicues. Painters discover that they're expressionists. It's all evasion. Underneath the long words or the "expressive" brush strokes, there is not much going on, and that's frightening.
When you're forced to be simple, you're forced to face the real problem. When you can't deliver ornament, you have to deliver substance.
The above was written by Paul Graham and pulled from his site http://www.paulgraham.com/taste.html.

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