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The Lost Art of Simplicity


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Simplicity is a lost art in the application development space. The Wikipedia definition of Simplicity is “Simplicity is the property, condition, or quality of being simple or un-combined. It often denotes beauty, purity or clarity. Simple things are usually easier to explain and understand than complicated ones. Simplicity can mean freedom from hardship, effort or confusion.” This is a beautiful statement that we often lose sight of when we are building our applications. Instead we are on a never ending quest to fill out a checklist of features or to build something clever forgetting about the actual needs of our users to get a specific task done. This session takes complexity to task and challenges you to bring simplicity to the center of your development with some straightforward ideas and guidance.

Full writeup of the presentation and patter at

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The Lost Art of Simplicity

  1. 1. The Lost Art of SimplicityJosh<br />
  2. 2. sim·plic·i·ty  (sm-pls-t) n.<br />1. The property, condition, or quality of being simple or uncombined.<br />2. Absence of luxury or showiness; plainness.<br />3. Absence of affectation or pretense.<br />4. a. Lack of sophistication or <br /> subtlety; naiveté.<br /> b. Lack of good sense or <br /> intelligence; foolishness.<br />5. a. Clarity of expression.<br /> b. Austerity in embellishment.<br />
  3. 3. Simplicity is an acquired taste. Mankind, left free, instinctively complicates life<br />- Katherine F. Gerould<br />
  4. 4. I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.<br />- Oscar Wilde<br />
  5. 5. Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! - Henry David Thoreau<br />
  6. 6. Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction. - Albert Einstein<br />
  7. 7. Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.<br />- Albert Einstein <br />
  8. 8. It takes a long time to make something complicated simple, but if you do, it will work w/o problems for a long time.<br />- F. Andy Seidl,<br />
  9. 9. The Innovator’s Dilemma that disruptive innovations are almost never the result of technological breakthroughs but are instead recombinations of existing and often inexpensive technology in forms the former market leaders don’t pursue.<br />- Clayton Christensen<br />
  10. 10. Dealing with complexity is an inefficient and unnecessary waste of time, attention and mental energy. There is never any justification for things being complex when they could be simple. - Edward de Bono<br />
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  13. 13. &quot;Think simple&quot; as my old master used to say - meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles.<br />- Frank Lloyd Wright<br />
  14. 14. Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations. <br />- Paul Rand<br />
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  16. 16. Engineering<br />
  17. 17. We need to be very careful about the lure of complexity. <br />We should not fall into the trap of thinking that if it’s hard to design, it must be good; that if it’s using the latest technology, it must be good; that if all our friends think it’s really cool, it must be good.<br />- Gerry McGovern<br />
  18. 18. Programming without understanding how programming languages really work is like painting with the brush held between the toes of one foot<br />- Steve Yegge<br />
  19. 19. When thought is too weak to be simply expressed, it&apos;s clear proof that it should be rejected<br />- Luc De Clapiers<br />
  20. 20. I apologize for the length of this letter, but I didn&apos;t have time to make it shorter.<br /> - Mark Twain<br />
  21. 21. Process<br />
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  25. 25. The whole point of human-centered design is to tame complexity <br />- Don Norman<br />
  26. 26. Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.<br />- Albert Einstein<br />
  27. 27. If you find yourself talking more than walking, shut up, cut the vision in half, and launch it. You can always fill in the gaps later. <br />- Jason Fried<br />
  28. 28. Never again will I make the simple into the complex. Something of true value does not become more valuable because it becomes complicated.<br />- Donald Curtis<br />
  29. 29. The whole is simpler than the sum of its parts. - Willard Gibbs <br />
  30. 30. UXFunction AestheticsInteractionProcess<br />
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  32. 32. Simplicity is not only a function of intuitive design, but also tailoring the design so the application is the right tool for the job- Scott Karp<br />
  33. 33. Aesthetics<br />
  34. 34. When you are around accomplished craftspeople for any period of time, you start to notice how easy their work seems to be for them. You also notice that they have a lot of tools, many of which you&apos;ve never seen before, all of which seem perfectly suited for the task at hand. I’m often struck by the elegance of their function and how simple and well suited both to the task and to the individual doing the task they seem. <br />- Dennis Kennedy<br />
  35. 35. The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.<br />- Hans Hofmann<br />
  36. 36. Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity<br />- Charles Mingus<br />
  37. 37. The challenge for designers is straightforward, if somewhat easier said than done: Give customers the features they need, presented in a way that makes the easy tasks obvious and the complex tasks simple to discover when you’re ready to handle them.<br />- Josh Clark<br />
  38. 38. Remember that at the root of all complex problems lies a simple solution. <br />- Luke Wroblewski<br />
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  40. 40. The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. <br />Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. <br />True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want, or providing checklist features. <br />- Nielsen Norman Group<br />
  41. 41. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you&apos;ve imagined. <br />As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler. - Henry David Thoreau <br />
  42. 42. All artwork used in this presentation is licensed under <br />Creative Commons by Frits Ahlefeldt, aka hikingartist Support his amazing craft at<br />
  43. 43. The Lost Art of SimplicityJosh<br />