Simple vs. Complex design

Some of my favorite quotes and comments about simple vs. complex design.

  • achieving a simple, elegant design is very hard work but
  • since the design is so simple and elegant it looks like it should be easy.
  • so you get less credit than if you design something that looks complicated


“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
– Steve Jobs


  • If you design something that’s simple and elegant then your boss will ask you why it took so long or someone will say it’s just plain common sense and they knew it all along.
  • If you work long hours, or appear stressed, then people will think you’re a better worker. (e.g. my boss recently told me that (a) he was thrilled with the quality and output of my work package and that it was largely down to my work, but (b) he was extremely disappointed that I’d only worked 6 hours overtime in the last year, unlike the troopers on the other (struggling) work packages who were coming in at the weekends).
  • If you write a long document that’s complicated and full of hard words then people will often rate the work as better than an simpler, easier version.


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