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Remember the KISS Theory

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I was preparing the new template design for our html newsletter this week to keep things consistent, and there were a number of “extra” features to the new home page design that weren’t necessary, per-say.  Some of the special link effects with CSS and some of the header graphics just seemed like they would add filesize bulk to the newsletter and would not provide much of value.  So, those were the first things to go when I thought about the new design.

Why?  Although I like some eye candy (being part graphic designer and part code monkey), functionality is key.  What is exactly necessary to get your message across, and what gets in the way of that?

I noticed that some of our trial runs of PCM promotional mailings with the new design didn’t come through to well on some mail clients and some webmail services.  They just caused layout problems, and would have been impossible to fix, given the limited or non-standard CSS support in webmail or mail clients.

Long story short, when all else fails, remember the KISS theory.  Some of you may be familiar with it.  If you’re not, it literally means: Keep It Simple Stupid.  It is definitely sage advice.  Many a small problem was made large by over thinking the matter and adding too much to the possible solution (that, or the problem was made large by the right kind of advertising, as Mark Twain once said).

In any case, when you’re working on a problem and run up against a wall, always remember the KISS theory.  The “back to basics” approach works too, and either one will save you lots of work in a pinch.  After all, the important thing is to get at the core problem and solve it.  Only once the problem at hand is solved should you try to add the bells and whistles.

Start simple and work your way up.  Break a large project down into little parts.  I guarantee it will be much more manageable.  For any of you in the IT, CS, IS, CE, or any other project management field, that is the basis of all the black magic behind any systems analyst.

The KISS theory works, and it has saved my rear more times than I can count on my fingers and toes. Hopefully this little nugget of wisdom will prove to be valuable in the near future.

(Originally published on a now-defunct blog)