The Power of Simplicity in Design
22 March 2015

The Power of Simplicity in Design

The big question for almost everyone today is always is “how do I get someone to read my site, my ad, my blog?

Methods for designing and marketing today change rapidly. Everyone is trying to figure out how to do good publishing in an age of visual noise.

Good first design principals always win out— but to practice good design, you must first understand what good design is and what good design can achieve for a marketer. After so many years as an art director, I have lived those design principals. They were drilled into my head as a design student at Pratt. And I cut my teeth on them as a publishing art director on Madison Avenue.


It all comes down to drawing the viewer into the page or the site. How do you do that? Through good visual navigation and simplicity and relevance to the visitor. White space is your friend. Or blue space or black space.

People still love the story about the old classified ads if they are old enough to remember them— there was always one ad that had a lot of white space and just a little copy (or content as we call it now.) That’s the ad your eye was always drawn to. But many of new publishers out there today don’t know this. They feed us crazy blinking ads!

You have to always think of the experience from the user’s perspective. You have to remember that when someone comes to a site, especially for the first time, they are looking for something and they have never been there before. They don’t know if the site is big or small, or where to start.

This is true of any new information you are trying to get a viewer to take in.

It’s your job to make it easy for them to find what they are looking for. Make it clear and simple and don’t give them too many options. A good usability principle is that “if it looks like too much work, people won’t do it.”

I have been doing UX since grad school at Pratt. Everything I have ever done has been about visual navigation. Whether designing the pages of a print publication, creating direct mail pieces or designing web sites and banners ads—its all been about UX—our job is to help the reader understand the information quickly and easily.

At Pratt we had to justify every line we put down on paper. (Okay yes it was still paper back then.) We had to design playgrounds and exhibits that could ship in a small box, that could be put together quickly by unskilled labor and win design awards. We studied user movement like Buckminster Fuller did. We were told constantly that we were problem solvers and the mantra was “function before form.”

Now that visual navigation is called information architecture. That is like publishing. It’s about getting someone from here to there, except through a site instead of through a publication.

Paper has become pixels. Copy has become content. Good design is called UX.

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