Simple just isn’t that important

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Declaring your love of simplicity has long been a prerequisite pledge for anyone working on products. It’s the perfect placeholder word for everyone to load up with their own personal aspirations, all the while nodding in agreement with someone holding diametrically opposed ideas. Even the most obtusely designed products will have a parent ready to explain “it’s actually quite simple if you just…”

Beyond the trouble of pinning down exactly what simple means is certifying its value. “Simple” is just one of the many qualities we can use to evaluate products, and it is by no means the most important. To use a trite phrase to describe another: Simple is overrated!

Here are but a few qualities I’d take over simple:

  • Useful
  • Clear
  • Fun
  • Satisfying
  • Inspiring
  • Endearing

I wouldn’t just rank “simple” low on my list of priorities for a finished product, but also for the tools we use to take us there.

David has a few points on this, simple is nice but it’s not always what you need. We thought about this when we built our query engine, and decided to follow mongodb-style querying to give our users more power than what they’d normally get.


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