Recently I was lucky enough to spend a weeks holiday camping on the beach in our Northwest and like all good camping it involved getting back to the basics and developing a new appreciation for simplicity. We had the essentials: food; water; shelter; fire; and our days existed doing activities to make the most of our surroundings: swimming; surfing; fishing; walking and snorkelling. We had none of the technology that we come to rely on in our everyday lives such as TV, internet, mobile phones or computers and it was great!

It reinforced the idea to me that all you need are the essentials, that a simple life can be just as enjoyable, if not more enjoyable than one where you are surrounded by unnecessary luxuries. I believe a similar principal applies to effective design.

Just like life, with design it can be so easy to get caught up in the latest trends and to make things more elaborate than they need to be just to fit in with what is considered trendy at the time. If 3D modelled graphics, grunge effects, animation (or any other trend) do not add anything to your key message then leave them out. There is no point using trendy techniques just for the sake of it because you end up looking like everyone else and your consumers have nothing to differentiate you from your competitor.

It is also common to feel as though you should make the most of your advertising space and fit in as much information as possible, in essence creating something that becomes so confusing that it communicates nothing at all. The visual world is a cluttered place and people can’t be expected to take too much information in, in one go. It is far more beneficial to keep it simple and say one thing with impact than to say several things in a diluted manner.

It seems sometimes we forget what the real purpose of a design is, which is to communicate, not just make an average message look pretty. Design should definitely look good but it should also serve a purpose and effectively communicate a message. I believe the best way to do this is to get back to basics and keep it simple – one message; easy to read text; your branding and clean, visually impacting graphics.

Being simple is not easy. It needs you to be brave! It also needs the few essentials you are using to be completely right – an art which can be far harder to master than a flashy technique that is fashionable. To sum up this blog I would like to read a quote by a designer I came across recently. Unfortunately I can’t remember it exactly but it was something along the lines of ‘Good design is not when you have nothing left to put in, but rather when you have nothing left to take out‘. I believe it wholeheartedly.

In life and in design, be brave, strip things back a bit and see how much better it can be!