“I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things.”

Lindon Leader

In the world of design—where a single misplaced pixel can unleash more drama than an episode of Game of Thrones—there’s a golden rule as fundamental as remembering to wear pants to a Zoom meeting: great design hinges on simplicity and clarity. These aren’t just fancy buzzwords thrown around at pretentious design conferences—they’re the core, the essence, of what makes design work.

Simplicity in design is like my neighbor Keith’s approach to gardening. He believes in a minimalist landscape—a few well-chosen plants rather than a riot of color. In the same vein, a designer should know that a clean, uncluttered layout speaks volumes more than a chaotic jumble of elements—no matter how artistically rendered they might be. It’s about making sure your audience doesn’t need a GPS and a sherpa to navigate your product or website.

Then there’s clarity, the unsung hero of design. Clarity is like a good pair of glasses (or so I’m told)—it brings everything into focus. It’s about making sure your message is as clear as my business partner Chris when he’s not distracted by the pangs of pre-lunch hunger—direct, to the point, and slightly less grumpy. A clear design guides the viewer effortlessly, leaving no room for the dreaded “What on earth does this button do?” moments.

Combining simplicity with clarity is about stripping away the unnecessary—like peeling an onion, but without all the crying. It’s finding that sweet spot where your design is so intuitive that users feel like they’ve been using it for years, even if it’s their first time.

Remember, in design, you’re not trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube. You’re trying to create something that feels like home—familiar, comforting, and easy to navigate. And it’s all done to achieve a specific, measurable outcome.

Simplicity and clarity aren’t just design choices—they’re the secret sauce—making everything more accessible, understandable, and enjoyable. So, the next time you’re tempted to add just one more flourish, remember: sometimes the most eloquent statement is made not with a shout, but with a whisper. Keep it simple, keep it clear, and watch your designs not only speak, but sing.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.