The simplest thing that might work

Ward Cunningham‘s design advice is to try the simplest thing that might work. If that doesn’t work, try the next simplest thing that might work. Note the word “might.”

We all like simplicity in theory, and we may think we’re following Cunningham’s advice when we’re not. Instead, we try the simplest thing that we’re pretty sure will work. Solutions usually get more complex as they’re fleshed out, so we miss out on simple solutions by starting from an idea that is too complex to begin with.

Once you have a simple idea that might work, you have to protect it. Simple solutions are magnets for complexity. People immediately suggest “improvements.” As design guru Donald Norman says “The hardest part of design … is keeping features out.”

One thought on “The simplest thing that might work

  1. Sabine Pyrchalla

    Clearly I could be wrong – but this also reminds me of Occam’s Razor….? (“All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.”)

    I might have to tag on to this via another post – if that’s ok with you?

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