Simplicity is the Secret

Chapter 3 of Brian Carroll’s book— Writing for Digital Media

Simplicity in writing, simplicity in visual perspective, simplicity in general online style.

I have always struggled with simplicity in writing. I have an inclination to be verbose. However, I do not believe that verbosity denotes any writing, including physical literature, as being written by a more intelligent author. Old English is a great example. Many would argue that this and other writings of the past are more well written or written by a smarter author. Regardless, I believe evolution caused this transition and simplicity is not necessarily a bad thing. Simpler writing allows us to read faster and to take in more information and thus to be more intelligent.

A good visual style is also based in simplicity. In my last post, A Brave New Media, I discussed how time was of the essence on the Web. We want everything as quickly as possible and if one site isn’t delivering what we seek in a timely manner then there is no hesitation in moving on to a different site. A good visual style must lend itself to a quick comprehension of the webpage. The message of the webpage must be clear and navigation to other pages must be easy to locate.

Aesthetics are great but I must consider how this visual appeal speaks to the message I am trying to articulate. A superfluous amount of different sorts of digital media can be very distracting. Digital media is most powerful when used with discretion. In this manner, digital media enhances what the author, creator, or innovator is attempting to convey.

A great example is how I view the news.


This news map is the screen I go to when I want to see the world and US news. The design depicts everything in a fully visual manner. More important stories are in larger type and the less important are in much smaller type. Topics such as sports or healthcare are color coordinated. The code at the bottoms also portrays that information and at the top is the most current and progressively down the page information is older. At the top there are also tabs to choose which country you are interested in. I believe this is an amazing design that goes right to the very heart of simplicity.


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