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Douglas Bowman’s Pushing Your Limits presentation on CSS discusses the deconstruction phase of the Blogger redesign. It consisted of these steps: “Take everything away. What do we need to add back in? What can we get away without?”
It reminded me of Life Laundry, which PBS has been playing the heck out of lately. The show helps people streamline their lives by cleaning out home clutter. It’s amazing to see the way some people hoard things and the emotional baggage attached to possessions.
What I really like about the show — and what Bowman’s bit reminded me of — is how it makes people choose which items to keep. Instead of going into the house and picking things to eliminate, they take everything in the house outside to the closest outside space.
It’s a simple yet brilliant idea. Now everything is outside the home and must be dealt with — and quickly. Now it’s easier to get rid of something than keep it (instead of the opposite). If you want to keep an item, you’ll actually have to put forth effort and make the choice to keep it. It’s a powerful shift.
Here’s one of the show’s hosts, Dawna Walter, on letting go:
You should surround yourself with things that bring you pleasure and serve a useful function. Everything else is extraneous. That is the litmus test. If you use it then you must appreciate it and look after it.
You can see how this concept extends to interfaces: Show respect to the elements that really matter by eliminating the ones that don’t.