I’m not one who likes to over analyze mantras, or argue about dogmas when it comes to design rules. To me, rules are there to serve as a guide, not a constraint. As a fan of minimalism and simplicity, one rule I DO follow very closely is “less is more.”
Last week I stumbled upon an essay titled Ten Things I Have Learned written by famed graphic designer Milton Glaser. It was great read, I highly recommend it. Item #5 in the essay caught my attention:
LESS IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE.
Being a child of modernism I have heard this mantra all my life. Less is more. One morning upon awakening I realised that it was total nonsense, it is an absurd proposition and also fairly meaningless. But it sounds great because it contains within it a paradox that is resistant to understanding. But it simply does not obtain when you think about the visual of the history of the world. If you look at a Persian rug, you cannot say that less is more because you realise that every part of that rug, every change of colour, every shift in form is absolutely essential for its aesthetic success. You cannot prove to me that a solid blue rug is in any way superior. That also goes for the work of Gaudi, Persian miniatures, art nouveau and everything else. However, I have an alternative to the proposition that I believe is more appropriate. ‘Just enough is more.’
It made me reflect on my approach to web design. I start with the purpose of the site, then identify the core elements to execute the functions. I tend to leave out the extras. So to me, “less” is “more” in the sense of serving the purpose of the site without distractions. This site is a prime example.
However, such design obviously isn’t appropriate for every type of site. When we think of “less is more,” we tend to paint of picture of something that’s bare and minimalistic. I like Mr. Glaser’s “enough is more” approach better. Because “enough” is when it’s appropriate.
I’ve started to re-evaluate the design of this site. Being a personal site, I feel I have some freedom to dictate how things are. So far, the goal is to put most emphasis on the articles, not the branding of the site, or myself even. But admittedly, I’ve sacrificed some usability by steering away from convention. Perhaps, I need to find that point of being “enough.”