Simplicity is not about making something without ornament, but rather about making something very complex, then slicing elements away, until you reveal the very essence.
— Daphne du Maurier
Love this distinction between clarity and simplicity.
This is what clarity is all about. It’s about eliminating “I’m confused” answers. Lots of people think simplicity is the opposite of confusion (“It’s confusing, let’s make this simpler”). It’s not. The opposite of confusion is clarity.
— Massimo Vingelli
— Lao Tzu in Tao Te Ching
— Yvon Chouinard (via soul-surfer)
This comment struck me as profound. It’s a rebuttal to Aaron Levie’s recent FastCompany article, “The Simplicity Thesis,” where Levie argues for “the radical simplification of everything.” All credit to Mr. Nathan Shedroff for the following points.
Mr. Levie, like many, I’m afraid you’ve confused simplicity with clarity. Nobody wants a simple life with few choices—especially those preconfigured by others. None of Apple’s products are simple in any way. [What] we want and what Apple’s products deliver is a tremendous amount of functionality, and the ability to customize the experience, but in an exceedingly clear way.
Simple is a life where you have few options. It’s a map that only has the most obvious information on it—one that makes no allowances for unforeseen circumstances (like a road under construction). Simple is “one size fits all” and “any color you want as long as it’s black.” Simple delivers little or no context and answers that don’t fit our lives.
Clear is a path to a new destination that doesn’t delete every landmark or context that might help orient us and, thus, get us there. Clear is alternate views that allow those of us who are visual, spatial, readers, or more comfortable with speech to learn, search, make, and understand in ways that make more sense than the “average.” Clear isn’t eliminating features from systems but arranging them to be found and available JUST when they’re needed in a context that is natural and “obvious.”
There really isn’t anything simple about Square, for example—not in the backend technology, the ecosystem, the partnerships, nor even the front-end. What makes it appear simple is that it is so CLEAR (and obvious to many, though not all) that we think it’s simple and even natural. It is neither and THAT is the magic.
‘simple’ seems to describe an outcome (sausage). ‘clarity’ seems to define the process and the goal (how the sausage is made). i’m not sure the same context is used in defining the terms, however it brings up a great point and i’ve spent a couple weeks mulling over how i use each term in my daily conversations.
I’m not a hipster but dream of my cabin because it IS simpler.