Medium’s design is often praised as being “simple and clean.” While I think our design team deserves the compliment, there’s an important distinction to make here.

Simplicity is the lack of complexity. Simple things are straightforward and easily understood. Simplicity is about the experience.

Cleanliness is a design aesthetic. Clean designs are often sparse with ample whitespace. Cleanliness is about the look.

Less buttons, switches, and options do not make something simple. In fact, it can lead to the opposite. I love Medium’s clean design, but I think we can continue to make the interface simpler to use.

A good goal for product designers to strive for is requisite complexity, just enough necessary complexity to make something easily understood.

Written by

Product R&D at Facebook. Previously CEO of Lucid (http://getlucid.com). Ex Twitter and Medium.

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