Keep it simple stupid

Paul Boag

The KISS acronym has become such a cliché that we so often ignore it. After all why “keep it simple” when we can play with the latest cool bit of technology.

I often feel somewhat isolated from the web community. While everybody else is writing about AJAX and CSS techniques, I am talking about the humble hypertext link and building better forms. For a long time I have felt that as web designers we lose interest in the mundane and would much prefer to spend our time pushing the boundaries of CSS or integrating the latest Javascript widget.

You can therefore imagine my delight to read an excellent article by Gerry McGovern in which he wrote the following:

"Again and again, I meet web teams that are excited by the exceptional task, and are bored with the common task. The common task on a website may indeed be boring and often inconsequential to you because you have completed this task so often. You have learned it inside out and to you it seems simple. It seems like there is no more work needs to be done on it.

The exceptional task is much more likely to be exciting and intellectually challenging. Beware. Every time you add an exceptional task to a webpage, you make the environment more cluttered; you make it more difficult to complete the common task."

I couldn’t agree more. We need to be careful that we don’t let our attention to the basics slip in our desire to constantly push the web forward. I can understand that we find the common tasks boring. However, the very fact that they are common means that they are by far the most important, simply because users are encountering them more regularly.