KISS- The Only Rule that Matters when Designing for User Experience

When it comes to usability studies, almost everyone will agree that one particular acronym summarizes the findings best:


Often times, clients looking to build or rebuild a website focus heavily on their internal use of a site rather than the intended end-user. This frequently results in content that is not search engine optimized for the target audience, as well as sites that have convoluted hierarchies and more complicated functionality than required.

The aforementioned rule of thumb has existed long before the days of digital design, and has been written about time and time again.  In 2001, Digital Web Magazine featured this story "Keep It Simple, Stupid!" summarized how "less is more" in terms of balance, contrast, and invisible lines.

It's no surprise that ten years later, Paul Scrivens' Smashing Magazine article "Easier Is Better Than Better" reiterates this time-honored mantra. The article cites Barry Schwartz's new book The Paradox of Choice and highlights:

"People choose not on the basis of what’s most important, but on what’s easiest to evaluate.”

Additionally, it features some great everyday examples of businesses that have succeeded in making an ROI through simplifying the decision making process and cutting branches from the decision tree.

When it comes to determining how different processes and functions should work, compartmentalizing and simplifying tasks is key.  Designing for exceptions and special circumstances can only further complicate processes and will usually deter users from utilizing that particular function on a site.  Hence, for any project, it is even more important that the full design/development team is brought onboard early and a variety of input be provided in the development of a website.  End-users of all backgrounds should be considered when designing both interface and functionality.  When exceptions exist, ask yourself if existing processes that result in exceptions can be changed to avoid them?  No custom application or design can universally address the needs of end-users, but a simplistic and intuitive one can provide users a level of comfort and satisfaction, giving them reason to return to visit your site in the future.  With that in mind, any project team must have a good balance between understanding the big picture and overall goals as well as detailing the most specific and minute aspects of a process.