You’re walking across a muddy lawn when you come across a carrot and two lumps of coal. How did they get there? The simplest solution to this famous thought puzzle is that you’re looking at a melted snowman. But before reaching this conclusion, people generally run through any number of solutions: a rabbit dug them up; they were thrown from a passing car; a coal delivery driver dropped the carrot from his lunchbox.
Although these more complex answers may be valid to some degree, we can safely eliminate them on the grounds that they are just too far-fetched. This process of shaving away the least likely arguments is known as ‘Occam’s razor’, and it’s proved to be a handy philosophical tool since at least the 14th century, when it was first used by the monk William of Ockham.
Ockham (or Occam) went even further: he believed that abstract concepts – even if they seemed helpful for explaining things – were prime candidates to be shaved off. For Ockham, an apple was green not because of some abstract idea of ‘greenness’, but because it was green. Warriors were bold not because they shared some universal concept of ‘bravery’, but because they were brave as individuals. Concrete ideas were in, abstract concepts were out.
This led Ockham to the conclusion that – as with the snowman – the argument with the fewest assumptions was preferable to an argument that depended on multiple factors. Although he was talking about writing rather than logic, Orwell said something similar when he wrote “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out”.
We can apply the same principle to websites. Not just in terms of elegant coding or clear design, but also when thinking about communicating in the simplest possible way. Concise language, unambiguous navigation, simple form-filling, direct calls to action. All these elements when combined make a website stronger, more resilient, and ultimately more successful.
So if you’re looking for a post-lockdown makeover of your current website, why not get in touch using the form on this page? We guarantee a clean, fresh look. And don’t worry: our razor is a lot less painful than the mediaeval kind.