The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

What "Simple" Doesn't Mean

Posted by Chris Bonney on Mon, Apr 26, 2010


Simple, simple, simple.

It's all anyone wants of their website. It's all anyone wants out of anything really. Our over-caffeinated, over-worked, over-run lifestyles scream for "SIMPLE". More of that please!

But let's break it down for a minute.

What does simple really mean?

What are we trying to accomplish with simple?

37Signals is all about simple software. Not bloated software, implying if you have a lot of stuff in your software it's not simple somehow. I get where they're coming from, and with millions of users, so do many other people.

But does simple only mean "less" like 37Signals implies?

An iPhone is simple. By "simple" I mean easy to use. It has a ton of functionality, so it's not about less. It's not stripped down "simple" like Basecamp is as compared to MS Project, for example. The iPhone is not only full of complex functionality, but we love to add more with apps.

Driving a car is simple. Aim and push the gas. That's dead simple. No one is saying, "Hey, stop putting those combustible engines in there . They are just too complicated and complex. I don't know how they work. Just give me an open floorboard like Fred Flintstone. That would be much simpler."

See where I'm going with this?

So, tell me, what do you mean when you tell me you want your new website to be "simple?" Are you implying that fewer nav buttons will make your site simpler? What if we give them nebulous names like "Resources" and "Membership?" Not simplifying your site at all there. Do you mean just fewer pages? Like cut it down from 1000 to 200 pages? Now the information people want isn't there. Is that simpler?

Comment below on your definition of simple as it pertains to websites. I'm curious.

Topics: simple, 37Signals, Websites

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