The power of minimalism in technology

Timeless design minimal

By staying focused, you have a great chance of creating something great.

I’ve recently revisited one of the profound – what I consider – classics on my bookshelf, “Getting Real” by 37Signals, and I must say, even years later the book brings tons of insight into what I and other developers in the field can do better.

In “Getting Real” the author discusses the necessary “slimming down” of software applications, and how most of the software popping up is just way too bloated. That there is a lack of emphasis on doing just one thing great in applications. The author stresses the idea of slimming down, slowing down, and trying to be the best at that one thing that separates your application from the others. In hindsight, although this book was written years ago, this still seems to be plaguing the industry today.

Don’t get me wrong, tons of new start ups are honing their sights on to being the best at what they do, but it seems as though more developers than not, have forgotten about the simplicity necessary in an application, abstracting the companies focus. Although company profits are more than likely the primary motivator for useless addons, endless advertisements, and unnecessary services. it’s a shame that some developers forget that the user experience is what matters most. If using an application doesn’t feel good, people won’t use it – except for Facebook it seems.

FOCUS

Whatever happened to doing just one thing “right”, and being the best at it? I’m not just talking about desktop applications either, but applications on mobile devices and web apps (blogs, frameworks, tools) as well. Some of the bigger contenders on the web these days do seem to get that minimalism is important – maybe that’s why they are so big. Recent applications like Instagram and Dribble most definitely place huge amounts of emphasis on the ability to just share content – and they do it well. However the “big 3″ seem to be loosing focus. It only takes a little bit of analysis to figure out what brings loads of people flocking to the popular applications online and what about these applications help generate a noble following. One could argue that all the advertising that have been invested in these applications are what has brought them to fame, but on the contrary it seems to be that they have perfected the art of being deadly simple.

Minimalistic applications that focus on doing that one task great, yield better results and easily develop a stronger customer base naturally.

WHEN IT COMES TO SOFTWARE

If you’re working on developing an application now, or you have a couple lined up, try to keep in mind that the best solutions are almost always the simplest solutions. Really think about it. Do you need a giant framework to query a database, or can you write simple methods to handle your SQL queries? Keeping your software simple takes away the abstraction that can surround code. If you’re working on a project now, do you really need that new feature? What VALUE does it add? You may come to realize that it will fit better in the next project that comes rolling across your desk. In case you’re still on the edge with this one, let us take a look at one of the greatest achievements in physics of the 20th century.

e=mc^2

Beauty most always resides in an objects simplicity, while the Devil most definitely does in the unnecessary details.

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