the art of simplifying things

Simplifying things is always risky, but it has to be done. Lets take a presentation. Despite the fact everyone knows how they’re ‘supposed to’ present, they’ll still go ahead and fill slides with lines and lines of text.

Creative Commons License photo credit: mag3737

Sentences. Paragraphs. Diagrams with so much text on them the font has to be deacresed to size zero to squeeze everything in…. I’m not talking about students either, most of my lecturers don’t follow any of the rules, despite the fact some even teach us about them :mrgreen:

Anyway, before this turns in to another college post, the art of simplifying things probably requires confidence more than anything else. One single picture on a slide with no text is powerful, but it requires confidence to memorize and explain what’s happening in it. It’s much easier to write a few bullet points, ditch the picture and use the bullet points as a safety net if you can’t remember what you’re talking about or where you’re going.

The same can be said for designing a website… it’s easier just to lump everything on to the one page. That way everything can be got to in one click. But at what cost? Being ugly looking? Being crowded with content?

Then if you simplify things, how simple do you go? One image per page? One menu bar? Drop down menus? Drop down submenus? It’s not as straight forward as it seems. Right now, i’m in the middle of revamping and making a big effort to get everything right.

I don’t usually dedicate time and energy in to looking at stuff like this (i just go with my gut – whatever that is), but i’m finding that by sitting down and really mulling over fine detail and every single pixel on screen, the reward is worth it.

In the past, all revamps on have worked out well. Traffic has steadily increased and the site just seems to keep growing, without much extra content or upkeep on my part. The the changes are good… people like to know a site is being looked after or growing or at least cared for.

Anyway, i find myself asking a few questions whenever i’m debating whether or not i should keep something or add something in…

  • Is that as simple as it can get?
  • Can i summarize that with an image?
  • Can everyone understand it?
  • Does it look it?

Now i ask myself a million other questions and i’ve always done so, but never really cared about the answers. I’d just go with my gut without thinking about what i was doing or why i was doing it. I just wanted to get things done and then worry about fine tuning later. You can’t fine tune an engine if you don’t have an engine.

But with i do have an engine and i’m enjoying playing with it and trying to make it as efficient as possible. It will be very interesting to see the feedback and to see the stats after it goes live because this is the one revamp that i’ve put a lot of thought and time in to…

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