Keep Your Software Simple (says Forbes)

by Danielle Cooley

Life Is Complicated - Keep Your Software Simple - a Forbes article that's been making the rounds lately, is a rather explicit example of LESS being more.  

The short version: Company launches product with a billionty features. Product fails. Company talks to users, who ask for fewer features. Company simplifies product. Adoption skyrockets. 

The users were not using the product because it was simply too much – it did too many things – it had too many options. The number of options stressed the users out and they simply chose to stop using the system.

No kidding, huh? I hope the high profile of Forbes helps software developers and product owners get this message. (Bonus would be talking to the users before investing months of development time and scads of money in a product that didn't meet the user's need. But that's a story for another forum.)

Get to the point. Then stop.

by Danielle Cooley
LOVE that Kerry Radshaw practices what she's preaching in this post, copied in its entirety below:
Clarity and Brevity in Web Writing
Remember: clarity is what our readers think is clear.
Never assume that what's clear to you is clear to your readers. Test everything. If you can't test content on the target audience (and why not?) at least test it on somebody outside the area of expertise for which you're writing.
Don't test writing through friends or colleagues.
Have clear-cut objectives. Write those objectives down before starting to write, and then stick to them. Cut out anything that doesn't apply. Extraneous text doesn't add meaning - it's just waffle.
Web readers have a short attention span and no interest in the extent of our vocabularies. Make content clear, and make it brief.
  • Get to the point. Then stop.
  • Use plain English.
  • Express one thought at a time.
  • Let the facts speak for themselves.
  • Use short words and phrases.
  • Never use a long word when a short one will do.
  • If it's possible to cut out a word, cut it out.





Shorter sentences.

by Danielle Cooley

In a piece for the New York Times Opinionator blog, Roy Peter Clark (@RoyPeterClark) extols the virtues of the short sentence.

I learned an important lesson, somewhat unwittingly, on July 19, 1975, while watching an interview with two of my favorite writers, William F. Buckley Jr. and Tom Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe was making fun of an art critic who had begun an essay with the sentence “Art and ideas are one.”
“Now, I must give him credit for this,” said Mr. Wolfe. “If you ever have a preposterous statement to make … say it in five words or less, because we’re always used to five-word sentences as being the gospel truth.”
The five-word sentence as the gospel truth.

The full post is worth a read, particularly if you are a writer.