OSS design…silence instead of shouting

Sometimes designing is very tempting; sometimes not designing is the answer. Often silence is required instead of shouting.”
Karres en Brands
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It’s said that when presenting a lecture, the softly spoken have more chance of reaching an audience than the classical loud extrovert. The theory goes that if a voice is barely audible, the listener has to tune right in to hear what is being said.

When it comes to OSS, shouting is the predominant design style. Think about it – how many OSS have you seen where there are hundreds of data points jammed into each page / screen? All of them? I’ll be honest, I can only recall seeing one OSS where the design style could be said to be minimalist. And to be equally honest, I think their approach is the way of the future for OSS. They’re only a relatively new player on the market and they share a number of guiding, but contrarian, OSS principles with me so I am watching their progress with anticipation.

Have you ever heard the old adage when selling a house, “remove the clutter!” Do you think the same applies to selling / building an OSS? I do… but it’s also a courageous decision in the current environment where vendors are competing in an arms-race of features (most of which will never be used by any given OSS operator). Just like your house, if you know what’s (not) being used, you know what to remove. But if you don’t know what features are being used by customers (ie you don’t have a way of measuring this), how do you know what is clutter and what is actually valued by customers?

BTW. You can tell that I’m equally guilty of this. De-cluttering the PAOSS website has been on my to-do list for some time but the sheer volume of client work has kept it on the back-burner (for now).

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