Cut website crud: Whatever happened to simplicity?

When some web developers are thinking about adding features, what they really should be focusing on is stripping back and doing the simple thing well.

Simplicity in web design is difficult. It's all too easy to add features, gizmos and widgets. A mobile-first approach helps so much in this regard. Indeed, you can think of designing for mobile as an opportunity to get rid of all the useless crud that litters so many websites.

Adding is easy, taking away is the difficult part. Indeed, renowned pilot and proto-Ziggy Stardust Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said.

«Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n'y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n'y a plus rien à retrancher.»

For those non-French speakers out there, this quotation essentially means that perfection is attained when there is nothing more to remove.

This all ties in with the Linux Tools Philosophy:

"Write programs that do one thing and do it well. Write programs to work together. Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface. Douglas McIlroy

And refining and redefining all simple tools is a perpetual process, from online percentage calculators to search engines. Back in 1998, I used to believe that Alta Vista was the ultimate search engine, and then along came Google, redefining what a search engine could be.

So imagine my surprise when I saw yet another WYSIWYG web text editor. But this one is different, I tell you, and here's why: it aims to separate the content from the management system.

Say hello to Hallo. It's so simple: click on a page, start editing. I know that the Concrete5 CMS has in-context editing but the promise of Hallo is that it could be bolted on to any web CMS — or decouple content management — all using the Create.js web-editing interface. Nice.


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