Dieter Rams is a German industrial engineer who is famous for his ten principles of good design. The tenth principle is “Good design is as little design as possible. Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.”

I have recently been impressed by the award-winning website, Gov.UK. The site replaces hundreds of British government websites, and it aims to be a quick and functional way for citizens and businesses to access information about the government. Here are a few things I noticed that might be of interest to anyone thinking of designing a website to support a large or complex organization:

  1. The site is written in plain language. There is no jargon or legalese.
  2. The site is designed from the perspective of the user. It seems as if the designers know that nobody is really interested in the structure of the government. For example, if you want to find out your tax rate, the link is “Money and Tax.” There is no need for you to guess which department handles that.
  3. There are no decorative graphics. A crown logo makes it clear that this is the British government website, but there aren’t any gratuitous pictures that add nothing to its function.

When the site won the Design Museum’s Design of the Year award, the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, scoffed “And the award goes to!” But in my opinion, for a government website, boring is good! How refreshing to be able to reach the information you need quickly and easily.

Give the site a try. Imagine you’re a British citizen, and you want to figure out your tax rate. Go to Gov.UK, and count the clicks it takes to find the information you need. Now go to the American government site to accomplish the same thing.

Let us know what you think! Is less really more? Or is boring really bad?