Cut website crud: Whatever happened to simplicity?

Cut website crud: Whatever happened to simplicity?

Summary: 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.

Topics: Emerging Tech, Linux, Open Source, Software Development

Jake Rayson

About Jake Rayson

A web designer since the 20th century, I am a pragmatic advocate of Free Software and I use proprietary software when appropriate. I made the full-time switch to Linux back in 2007, and my desktop tools of choice are Linux Mint, Inkscape, GIMP and Sublime Text.

As a Front End Developer, my core skills are HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery, and my working life reflects my commitment to open standards and accessible websites (ie accessible by everyone, regardless of browser, platform, ability or technology).

For web publishing platforms, I use WordPress for ease of use and Drupal for more complex solutions.

I am also learning about Ruby, Rails, Sinatra and CoffeeScript. I like the minimalist Ruby Way. To this end, my personal portfolio website is built with NestaCMS.

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  • website crud ???

    website crud needs respelling... website CRAP
    What we all NEED!!!! is a button to KILL all adverts.
    ALL ADVERTS!!! including the God Forsaking 'Google Ads''.
    And we thought the 1960's roadside billboards were bad?
  • Pot calling Kettle Black ? !

    Et tu Brute !
  • Oh, the Irony

    I'm reading this on ZDNet's website, which is maddeningly cluttered. How ironic.
  • Too bad your boss isn't reading this

    ZDNet and most of the large media giant need to take a dose of this message. Ditto ParrotHead_FL
  • Yes the irony!

    Since ZDNet revamped their website awhile back their pages won't even load on my (non-smart) phone! "Insufficient memory" is all I get! Way to go ZDNet!
  • How about a re-design of the ZDNet page?

    It's a complete trainwreck. A cacophony of shouting advertisements, complex layout and frighteningly tiny content space.

    Go ahead - I triple dog-dare you.
  • Agreed, ZDNet's site is awful

    ZDNet's website and comment system is a total trainwreck. Physician, heal thyself.
  • Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler.

    "Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler." -- Usually attributed to Einstein, I think?

    Hallo is nice, but I wonder if it's too simple. Can't really think of any use cases for it. I'm thinking that being able to save the text is important; Even Notepad, which is actually simpler than Hallo, can save files.

    I think if people want to go the simple route would rather use Notepad. This is one of those cases where it's really questionable whether throwing it onto the internet really helps.
  • why all the whiners?

    Zdnet is not forcing you to post here. If you're so angry, find another site.

    Vote with your wallet- it is one click away!

    Pity this concept isn't transferable to other paradigms...