Saturday, December 19, 2009

K.I.S.S. - Keep it Simple Silly

I celebrated the holidays with my colleagues this week. Our holiday party was toned down compared to previous years, but we all collectively agreed this is what we wanted. It didn't feel right to spend lavishly on a holiday event during a time when many people can't even afford groceries. We had a happy hour in our board room instead of an elaborate event at a fancy restaurant or club. The party still included some of the same elements as previous years, like good food and a holiday trivia contest (prizes included!). The simplicity worked, and we all left happy.

Our holiday party reminded me that simple things can make a big impression, and I've been going over this topic in my head for a few days. Think of simplicity in terms of design. If an advertisement or Web site has too much going on (colors, words, objects, patterns, etc.), then the attention of the viewer is put at risk and that person may ignore the company/brand/product showcased. Chris Brogan recently wrote this post, "Simplicity Trumps Most Other Emotions", about how simplicity affects purchasing decisions.

I've learned the simplicity lesson with client events. Being creative with an event doesn't mean you have to make it over-the-top. Simple, well-executed events that appeal to your target crowd will be just as successful.

Same goes for writing. A creative and inspiring article or blog post doesn't need to include smarty pants words that the average person would never use in a normal conversation.

I learned a lesson of simplicity last Christmas, I decided to buy my dad a surround sound speaker system for his living room TV. I really wanted to get him a gift that would make him grin from ear-to-ear on Christmas morning. What I failed to think about before buying the gift was the size of my dad's living room. The surround sound system would have cluttered the room and it would have been very difficult to install. I was too focused on the "wow" factor of the gift, and it ended up going back to the store. My dad would have been perfectly happy with a simpler gift that didn't require a lot of legwork or effort.

I'm not saying going overboard and making something bigger than it needs to be will result in failure. My point is this: You can be creative and make others happy without doing something on a grandiose scale.


metrogal84 said...

Great post, Nikki! And perfect for this time of year. I watched a show called "The Natives" on the Travel Channel last night and it embodied this exact principle. The "natives" were visiting the U.S. from a remote island in the Pacific and were amazed at the fascination Americans had with money and material things. They said the only things they needed to be happy were family and food. Life lessons for us spoiled Americans! Simplicity can be a blessing.

Nikki Little said...

Ari - You're right, I also have always seen it as "keep it simple, stupid". Silly is much less derogatory, so that's why I switched it up. :)