“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci

A standard belief in web design is the need to keep it simple. I am a strong advocate of the KISS principle ("Keep It Simple, Stupid"), especially when it comes to web design and functionality. Websites that follow the KISS principle are more aesthetically pleasing, easier to navigate, easier to understand, load faster, and help visitors focus on the task at hand. And as the mobile web becomes ubiquitous, simplicity will become even more important due to the reduced-screen real estate.

Follow the KISS Principle

The KISS principle not only applies to web design but to the underlying code as well. Simple sites reduce the time, cost, and complexity of development and are easier to debug if a problem arises. Limiting the number of styles in your CSS, the number of JavaScript effects you use, and coding to web standards are all practices you should follow.

And the KISS principle applies to your CMS as well. Too many CMS platforms have become jam-packed with features and functionality that make the authoring experience difficult for web editors and customization a challenge for developers. I once looked at the source code of a relatively simple page and saw over 4,000 lines of HTML code when I expected to see 400. An overly complex CMS was the culprit.

Advantages of Simple Websites

Most people focus on the benefits of simplicity as it relates to the initial web design and development without realizing the hidden benefits when it comes to support and maintenance. Simply put, simple sites are easier to maintain, which can save considerable time and money.

Let me share an example. Several years ago I assumed responsibility for a site that was overly complex. It had been created in PHP and relied on sophisticated programming to generate pages. Not only was the site very slow, which resulted in a poor user experience, it was difficult and time consuming to maintain. The site could have easily been created using basic HTML. And after spending countless hours trying to maintain the code, that’s exactly what we did.

Continued Website Quality = Continued Resources

I cannot emphasize the importance of maintaining website quality enough – web maintenance should not be neglected. Web teams need to find the right balance between the time they spend supporting the site and the time they spend working on new projects. Remember when a new project is launched, having resources available for continuous website maintenance is just as important as allocating resources for new projects. Keeping things simple for new web projects will improve the efficiency of your support activities while freeing up time and resources for continual website maintenance.

Make simple a priority. The result will be a better website.

If you want to learn more about maintaining website quality and reaching web goals, download the web guide on operational thinking for long-term success,

“From Project to Process: Operational Thinking for Website Success.”

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