Keep It Simple, Stupid: On the Internet, a KISS is still a KISS

01 Nov 2000; Dennis G. Jerz
The most elegant, best-designed web page is not the one that makes you think,  "Wow!  What a cool design!  Look at the realistic shadows cast by those spinning logos!  I could sit here and watch the show for hours!"

Instead, the best-designed web page is probably the one that makes you think, "Wow! What interesting information! I could find exactly what I wanted, quickly and painlessly, and now I can get on with my life."  In other words, good design doesn't call attention to itself nearly as much as bad design does.

If brick-and-mortar architects were so loopy as to propose outlandish business models just to get attention, we might encounter business plans like this: 

  1. Put the cash register on the roof!  (Why not?  Nobody else does it that way... it will create a lasting impression!)
  2. Dangle some ropes down to the sidewalk!  (Bright, shimmering ropes that dance and wiggle in the breeze -- everyone loves to look at pretty moving colors, right?) 
  3. Make your customers carry their purchases up that rope in order to check out!
  4. To entertain and amuse your customers while they wander around looking for the cash register, dangle a lot of other ropes from the windows and balconies, and encourage them to explore!
  5. Bar the door against anyone who doesn't want to play by your rules!  

What will happen?  A few people who love climbing ropes will play around in your store all day, but they won't be spending any money.  Many others will just get frustrated and leave -- and some will have the door slammed in their faces before they can even judge the content for themselves. 

The cash register roof-mounting services and rope-makers and rope-drapers will benefit -- as will companies that peddle pseudo-research designed to dupe investors into thinking that expensive rooftop registers and colored ropes are the secret to success. The citizens of the Internet at large will all lose.

by Dennis G. Jerz
Nov. 02 -- first posted