Image for post
Image for post

Make it simple by default

Todd A
Todd A
Oct 9, 2017 · 2 min read

In their book Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson write a chapter advising us to “Say No by Default.” This is a great way to force simplicity in a project. When it comes to presenting a product, we should still think that we’re saying “no.” We should make it simple by default.

When Microsoft Word was the only word processing game in town, every new version made things more and more complex in an attempt to help users out. The menu grew. The auto-complete functions expanded. If we typed a number and hit return, it automatically indented the line and inserted the subsequent number on a new line. This annoyed the hell out of me. What Microsoft never did was hide their new “smart” features by keeping them “off.”

I would have thought that automatically formatting lists was very handy, but only when I wanted it. So why didn’t Microsoft hide all the complex new features and streamline Word’s usage by default?

I love software that has an opinion on how you should use it. Basecamp, WriteRoom, and apps focused on one thing have an opinion by limiting the ways a user can complicate it.

To help us cut the cruft, let’s make the product simple by default. Those clever features we’ve added might exist for power users but they don’t have to be in the default display. Once we move those extras out of the way, we might discover we don’t need them at all. That’s when we really get to the heart of simple.

good.simple.open is the little idea that we can do good work by focusing on doing it simply and openly. Each week, we share ideas, advice, observations, and lessons. Join the weekly email list. Buy the Kindle. Buy the paperback.

good.simple.open

Stories about doing better work by focusing on simplicity…

Todd A

Written by

Todd A

I write about work, belief, music, and the politics of superheroes. Support my books and music at http://heytodda.com

good.simple.open

Stories about doing better work by focusing on simplicity and openness. Stories about the bad work that is complex and closed.

Todd A

Written by

Todd A

I write about work, belief, music, and the politics of superheroes. Support my books and music at http://heytodda.com

good.simple.open

Stories about doing better work by focusing on simplicity and openness. Stories about the bad work that is complex and closed.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store