I don’t do complex, I do simple

I don't do complex, I do simpleOne thing that I’m an advocate for is to do things in a simple way. I don’t understand why people feel the need to make things complicated – it doesn’t make them look impressive and it only confuses their audience.

Making things simple means eliminating everything that creates complications, takes up too much time and is not easily, if at all, understood. Using ordinary words rather than jargon does not reduce your expertise, in fact this is enhanced if you are able to explain a complex subject using simple, everyday language.

Why I believe in simple

I have strived to understand WordPress and blogging through my own experience. My methods may be unorthodox, simplistic and unprofessional, but this is a result of self-learning, which means I can relate to how others strive to understand, struggle to learn and are bamboozled by the technical language involved. I still come across new terms that leave me bewildered, but I take the time to try and fathom them out so I can explain them to others in a simple way.

I also look for simple methods to make my life easier, and therefore less expensive for my clients because of the amount of time saved. Using hosting accounts that provide a one-click-installation system like Fantastico reduces a 2 day struggle to just five minutes! Plugins that likewise provide a one-click action rather than battling with configuration or adding code are more preferable. My CMS theme that allows me to create whatever I want using a drag and drop operation allows me to produce excellent results.

How others aren’t making things simple

Many who have mastered a difficult or complex subject don’t usually stop and take stock to analyse their knowledge in a simple way. They become so involved in what they do, to reduce their understanding and take it back to basics is sometimes such an anathema to them it becomes almost impossible.

The other day I read a post that claimed to unravel the mysteries of a particular WordPress subject. Luckily I already knew about it, and this particular author obviously knew a lot more, especially regarding the inclusion of code into certain areas, but I felt the result was only adding to the mysteries rather than producing a simple explanation.

How simple should overrule complex

I find that a lot of experienced web developers who have spent a lifetime learning, practising and writing code and other techie stuff find WordPress a bit simplistic. But that is why I love it! It’s designed to be simple, easy to use and very understandable. It is tuned into how women think (since a large proportion of its designers are apparently female), making it very intuitive.

But I also believe in the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”, so why do some web-developers feel the need to enter WordPress via the back door in order to ‘improve’ it? This results in any access via the admin area to become more confusing, complex and in some cases practically impossible.

You shouldn’t be afraid of simple

I, on the other hand, strive to create my WordPress websites through the ‘front door’ or admin access, because that is how the user will enter it too. If the website’s owner isn’t able to understand their website through the normal admin access, then they’re not going to be able to use it to the fullest extent or the best of their capabilities. And an unused website is no more than an ornament on the virtual shelf, gathering cyber dust as it slowly and painfully becomes out of date and obsolete.

Thinking in simple terms and adapting that into my methodology helps subsequent users to understand their websites in a simple, easy way. That can only be a good thing, as surely complexity is not helping anyone to succeed and move forward?

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Alice Elliott has been explaining blogging to beginner bloggers for almost two decades, specialising in using ordinary, everyday language to make the process as simple as possible so that anybody can understand.
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  • Alice Prier says:

    Here here.I take the same approach when I’m teaching patern cutting for dressmakers.

    But WordPress seems not quite simple enough for me! I’m having trouble with my images and text floating around all over the shop!

    But I’m sure a little more of your tuition will put that right.


    • That’s because you’ve made it complicated, Alice!

      The answer is to approach it simply: don’t expect too much unless you know the code to make it do what you want it to do. If I’m confronted with a conundrum that isn’t working, I look for the simple answer that will provide the next best alternative.

      As for your pictures, don’t centre them, make them bigger, set their alignment to ‘none’ and put a space in between them. They may not be completely centred, but by being bigger and using up more of the space available to them, they will be more aesthetically pleasing.

  • Ashutosh says:

    Hi Alice,

    Well, first of all, I need to congratulate you writing about the simplicity in such a simple way.

    I too don’t understand the logic behind complicating the things when it can be done easily. After all, objective is not to exhibit your deep complex knowledge but to offer a user friendly approach to the users. The users must feel at least as well as enjoy doing the things.

    It seems to me that most of the people making the things complex either don’t understand it themselves or simply want to boast their knowledge, unluckily no use to the readers.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it and I hope that people do understand and implement the power of simplicity.

    • Thank you Ashutosh for your comment. I think you’re right when you say that complicated explanations are delivered by people who don’t fully understand their subject. I think it was Einstein who said that if you were unable to explain something in a simple way, then you don’t truly understand it. And he dealt with some of the most complicated subjects there ever had been!

  • Great post, Alice. When I entered the counseling field,I would address my clients, with too much flair, thus creating much confusion all around. My mentor took me aside, and said the following, “Make it easy for them to understand what you are trying to convey.” I took his advice, and “simple,” turned many lives around. Why dig a tunnel under the building, when all you have to do, is to open the door, and walk to your destination. This is a very good, and enlightening post. Blessings.

    • Thank you Johnny. Sometimes explaining something in a simple way with only a few points is far more beneficial than trying to cram everything in at one time, resulting in total confusion. If the subject is complex, break it down into manageable chunks and deliver it separately over a period of time. People much prefer drip feed education.

  • Hi Alice – I have been on the receiving end of your “explain it in everyday terms” many times, and it is greatly appreciated. Your blog posts, email guidance or explanations in person have helped me through on many occasions. Great stuff! I always stop to read your posts! Thank you. Keep them coming; they are greatly appreciated. Lindsay

    • Thank you Lindsay, it has been a great privilege to practice on you! Of course you’ve been a model student who has always ‘got’ my explanations very quickly, but with that experience I had the confidence to extend my simple explanations to meet the criteria of others.

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