When I first started designing, it was my goal to make the project I was working on appear as complex and intricate as possible. I’d spend hours adding layers to logos and experiment with complex gradients. I didn’t feel like my finished product was good until I’d found uses for half of the tools in Photoshop. I made sure every square inch of space was filled. As I started to progress and mature as a designer, without noticing, I began to scale back and make sure that the things that really mattered were the ones that drew the eye. As my sister started to become interested in designing, I noticed her doing the same things I used to do. Her designs were overly complex and splitting attention in trivial directions.
Simple is the new black. It represents luxury, good taste, and above all, a clear message.
Look at any luxury retailer and you’ll usually find three things:
- Big simple images displaying a product
- One to five word headlines
- A plain white background.
They don’t overload your vision with special deals or paw at you to click on links to their contact page. The designer isn’t trying to stroke their own ego by showing you all of the fancy skills they have. Their aim, much like their design, is simple. Buy THIS thing.
Simplicity is classy. There’s no doubt about it. Think of any tacky pamphlet you’ve ever received in the mail for the Italian restaurant two blocks over. If you didn’t immediately throw it in the trash because you were nervous about having a sudden seizure, you’d noticed it’s heavily over-designed. Once you get past the shiny, gold-embossed text (that had to have been half the cost of the whole thing at the printers) and the multiple ionic pillars they thought would give it a real “touch of Italy,” you’ll see a bunch of poorly-lit pictures of their Prego-inspired spaghetti and menu items you’ve seen at every other “Italian” place you’ve ever visited. Without realizing it, you’ve made a judgment based on their cheesy, over-complicated menu. This place is only good if you don’t want to wait in line, and you’ve been longing to be reunited with diarrhea.
Have you ever tried to read a legal document, or a terms and conditions page on a website? They come off as unnecessarily complex and confusing – and they’re just words. The same goes for unnecessary aspects of an over-complicated visual design. If the attention of your audience is being split equally among multiple focus points, you run the risk of missing your conversion marks and not getting the client the leads and sales they seek.
Many people think more equals better. And, in our bigger is better society, it’s easy to see how people really underestimate the value of clean, efficient, and simple design. If you see the value, and execute a clean design though, you and your clients will stand out.