KISS is an acronym for “Keep It Simple, Stupid“. In 1960, the U.S. Navy noted this design principle. The KISS principle basically states that most systems work best if they are kept simple, rather than made complicated.
“Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.” C. W. Ceran
I like to think about this principle when designing and developing websites. When creating a website you want to make it very easy for your audience to navigate and consume your information. Overcomplicating the design, the code or even the way the content is organized on your site really doesn’t help anyone and only leads to frustration.
The web design should be very intuitive so that you aren’t making your audience guess. It’s a fine balance of being creative, while at the same time following the web conventions that people expect. From my own experience, I’ve visited many sites that looked cool from a design perspective, but I wasn’t able to find the content I was looking for. Therefore, I ended up leaving the site. That’s called “bounce rate” and it’s NOT what you want your visitors to do. The placement of the menu should make sense, at the top from left to right or down the left hand side of the page from top to bottom. Most people read from left to right, top to bottom so that placement makes sense and it’s expected. Contact information should be easy to find and visitors typically expect that to be in the footer. Don’t have flashing, pulsating buttons just because you can. Everything should be deliberate and thought out. There are many areas of a site to get creative, but remember when it comes to design – Keep It Simple, Stupid.
When it comes to developing the website, the nuts and bolts, hire a developer that follows web standards and writes compliant code. We have worked on thousands of different sites and we know how to produce good code from bad code. Good code is easy to manipulate and makes sense, while bad code can have a good developer running in circles. This is more for developers, but the principle still applies.
Know your content inside and out. The better you know your content the better you can organize it in a manner that is easy for your audience to digest. You are the subject matter expert so it’s up to you to come up with the organization structure. Since we are outsiders digesting the content for the first time, we will definitely have some suggestions. We see it time and time again when someone is almost too entrenched in the content that they automatically makes assumptions on what the audience knows. Try your best to see it from an outside perspective and if you can’t, always ask family and friends. When it comes to the content on your site, one of the main objectives is to tell visitors coming to your site what you do and fast, particularly on the home page. They need to know what services you provide or what products you offer within the first 5 seconds. If they can’t find that quick, than expect that bounce rate to be high. Put yourself in the mindset of your audience. Some will know more than others, but you want to try your best to reach everyone so make it easy for the people to digest your content.
Feel free to apply this KISS principle to all facets of your life and remember making something complex into something simple means you know how to KISS like a contestant on the Bachelor.