Blow a “KISS” to your design: 10 steps to “Keep it Simple Stupid (…or Straightforward…or Smart)”

It’s easy to create busy, confusing designs. Simple is hard. The things we create and visualize are products of our mind. How we think impacts how our designs look, feel and function.

When designing for clients, things can get tricky. So many different groups providing input, making requests and changes, insisting on features—things can get complicated. By the time the design reaches the end user it can be a hopeless, confusing mess. And that means money is wasted and the design isn’t effective in doing what it is intended to do. That’s just bad business.

The best thing you can do is KISS your ideas and input! The KISS rule helps eliminate confusion and turns your designs into simple, seamless, powerful communications. And your users are going to love and appreciate your effort!

First, here are some simple truths to remember about simplicity:

  • Humans love simplicity. Our brains are wired to love simplicity.
  • Simplicity makes people happy.
  • Simplicity makes people think better.
  • Simplicity attracts people. Complexity is a turn off.
  • Simplicity makes people spend money. That’s good business!

Here’s how to apply the KISS principle when designing:

  1. Ask the question, “Do you really NEED it?” If the answer is “No,” then get rid of it. Things you don’t need are often clutter. Clutter in any circumstance can make it hard to focus. Clean and orderly design feels good and helps us stay tuned in. If you don’t need it, ditch it!
  2. Set the tone of your design — simple, clear and free of distraction.
  3. Set a clear and simple goal for the design. Ask yourself, “What is the ONE THING I want the user to do when they view this design?”
  4. Limit choices. Decisions are hard when our lives are filled with clutter and our time is precious. The more choices a user has, the longer it takes them to make a decision. The longer it takes the more likely they will put it aside and not make a decision at all. Inertia sets in. Keep action choices limited (and simple) to avoid losing the interest of your user.
  5. Use lots of white space. White space, or negative space, allows the user to breath and helps to focus your message. It doesn’t have to literally be white. It can have color and even subtle design and texture. It’s negative space because it’s not an area that competes for the user’s attention.
  6. In website design, make navigation easy and intuitive for a user who knows nothing about your business. Don’t require more than one or two clicks for them to find information.
  7. If possible, avoid dropdown menus. They automatically make things look and feel complicated. If you must use dropdown menus, use them carefully and sparingly.
  8. Use minimal color. Color is a great thing. But not too much of it. Limit the color palette of designs to 2 or 3 colors to avoid distracting from your message. Use color to focus attention.
  9. Use images to communicate more than words if possible. People process images faster than words. And they remember images more than words. The more images are used to communicate, the more pleasurable the design experience. Images communicate messages intuitively and simply.
  10. Test. Test. Every target audience is going to respond differently to your design, color, imagery, layout and functionality. Make certain that you are adapting your design to what the user wants and needs. This is especially true with website and mobile design.

We all want designs that “look good.”  But what makes “good looking design?” It’s simplicity. Simple designs work better, feel better, act better, function better, appear better, and respond better and ARE better.

Follow the KISS rule and you’ll make your design the kind of experience users will want to spend time with.

We all can agree, there’s nothing like a good KISS!

2017-05-02T10:54:03+00:00

About the Author:

Marina is the Director of Visual Experience at LRG Marketing Communications.