Why I love ugly, messy interfaces — and you probably do too
Jonas Downey

Nearly 100 years ago, The Elements of Style, by William Strunk made the point very simply. Here is Strunk’s Rule 13:

“ Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that he make every word tell.” (emphasis mine)

He is writing about composition, but the argument applies to design, business processes and software. The professional who wants optimum performance uses only what is necessary to accomplish the task.

In some cases, brevity is counterproductive. Craigslist puts several hundred links on a page in order to improve usability. For a buyer who isn’t sure where to look for ads for a Roku streaming stick, it’s better to show every possible option. This way they realize it can only be under “Electronics” or “Computers.” If the site showed a sleek menu bar with eight headings and an infinite dropdown (as Apple would), they’d have to hunt for the correct silo and probably give up.

Strunk’s book, by the way, is available for free at Project Gutenberg. Well worth reading for anyone.