Tech Writer This Week for August 8-9, 2015

Simplicity is under-rated. A corollary to that rule notes that the bigger the organization, the more complicated simple becomes. Witness the number of times you’re invited to meetings to discuss how you will plan a meeting that will happen at some point in the future. In our personal lives it’s much the same. How hard is it to find the little black dress for that important event, or schedule a tee time that fits your buddies’ schedules?

Perhaps it’s human nature to make things more complicated than they really are … generally, the more complicated the feat, the better the story. I could simply say that I moved to North Carolina in 1997. Or I could regale you with the misadventures of renting a truck with no interior lights, driving for eight hours with two wailing cats, getting stuck in a ditch, finding a donut shop open at 4 in the morning to get directions from a local cop, and arriving at my new home at 7 am to find the key had not been left for me to get in. All true, infinitely more entertaining than “I moved to North Carolina,” and way more complicated than a simple move should have been.

Simple can actually be fun. Blowing bubbles from the patio may not have the panache of the latest game app, but watch the cats chase them, the kids chase the cats, and accompany it with a nice merlot and a medium-rare steak, and simple becomes just divine.

Content developers face this problem all the time. A simple, clean website is a delight to visit, but if there’s nothing interesting going on, will anyone stay long enough to try or buy? How much of the story do we tell with well-chosen words, how much with pictures, and how much do we leave to customer to explore on their own? It gets more complicated when the folks who want the customer to buy say it one way (often simply, just as often not), and those who want the customer to be able to actually use it say it another. On the other hand, it gets very tough (and downright boring) to always say the same thing, the same way, no matter what.  Consistency and simplicity are great for messaging (and they make the CMS work more effeciently), but can get a little tedious for message creators.

Thought leaders in content, design and experience have much to say on simplicity and effectiveness. Spend an afternoon pondering some the latest finds we’ve curated here for you, including:

Float on over and check out the rest in the latest edition of Tech Writer This Week.

Connie Giordano

Connie Giordano is a partner in INKtopia Limited and editor of TechWhirl's Tech Writer Today online magazine. She has been a list member and contributor since the days when 14,400 baud was high speed communications, and Windows 95 was state-of-the-art.

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