Easy to implement

Simple designs are easier to build. The same is not usually true for designs that include a lot of elements for the sake of visual interest.

Some people ask why they shouldn't optimize for function and aesthetics. Even if their visitors are perfectly happy with the current appearance of the website, what's the harm in being beautiful regardless? It's like asking “What's the harm in giving Usain Bolt an egg and spoon to carry while he runs?” They don't realize that beauty, like an egg and spoon, tends to slow progress to a crawl.

Imagine if your site were as easy to edit as Wikipedia ... Typical web marketers could edit a Wikipedia page in one minute, but would take at least a day to make a similar change to their own site ... Much of that time difference is because their own site is more complicated for aesthetic reasons: Fonts are substituted, decorative images are included, layouts are complicated, and ornamental graphics are included. The technical burden soon becomes immense: changes must be checked on multiple devices running multiple browsers on multiple operating systems; plug-ins conflict; fonts don't render

Part of the problem is that the front-end world is full of exciting solutions.

Today, a basic HTML/CSS site seems almost passé. But why? Is it because our new tools are so significantly better, or because we've gone overboard complicating simple things? As builders, we like tools and tech because they're interesting and new, and we enjoy mastering them. But when you think about the people we're building for, the reality is usually the opposite. They need simple designs, clear writing, less tech, and fewer abstractions. They want to get [the job done], not fuss around with website stuff. Remember when the web was damn simple? It still can be. It's up to us to make it that way.

Simple design helps developers to build. It also helps designers to design.

The boring designer realizes that the glory isn't in putting their personal stamp on everything they touch. In fact, most of the time, it's about leaving no trace of themselves. The boring designer loves consistency. The boring designer loves a style guide. They love not having to worry about choosing the wrong blue or accidentally introducing a new pattern.

I asked Brian Lovin why his website looks as simple as it does.

Not really a philosophy. I just like the way it looks, and the simple language makes it easier to maintain/update over time. Especially when you factor in things like dark mode, having a smaller surface area for component types and styles just makes things easier. I'm trying to keep this thing easy and fast to update so that I stay motivated to keep working on it over time.

Developers are grateful for a focus on simplicity.

The best web designs aren't huge, pixel-perfect monstrosities based on some insane PSD designed by someone who doesn't know what implementation will require. They're simple, flowing, and resilient. They won't break if the content-length changes and the right column is longer than the left. They won't break when someone over age 40 views the site and magnifies the text to 150% because they can't read your trendy 11px Verdana. And they certainly won't break if IE slips a few pixels into the margin somewhere. Instead of wasting hours upon hours to hammer out every little browser difference in an overly complex design, just design it to accommodate browser differences in the first place.

So are designers.

Why does all of this matter? Most experienced designers want concision—clear, robust, consistent, elegant systems that avoid redundancy. Concise designs are smoother to implement, faster to render, quicker to understand, and easier to hand-off and maintain.

Especially if those designers also need to build what they design.

The new methods [of front-end development] were invented to manage a level of complexity that is completely foreign to me and my work. It was easy to back away from most of this new stuff when I realized I have alternate ways of managing complexity. Instead of changing my tools or workflow, I change my design. It's like designing a house so it's easy to build, instead of setting up cranes typically used for skyscrapers.

Simple design can help tackle the website obesity crisis.

Here is what I recommend for a balanced website in 2015: A solid base of text worth reading, formatted with a healthy dose of markup. Some images, in moderation, to illustrate and punch up the visual design. A dollop of CSS. And then, very sparingly and only if you need it, JavaScript.

Simple design can even make your design better than most others, with less effort.

Over the last few years, I've found myself repeatedly making a comment about websites: you can design a blog that's superior to most with a couple lines of CSS.

I wrote down the technical requirements of my web design practice. It's not a long list: Simple, responsive layout. Web fonts and nicely set text. Performant, scalable images.

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