Occam’s razor is a problem-solving principle devised by William of Ockham (XIII century) that states:
“Scientists must use the simplest means of arriving at their results and exclude everything not perceived by the senses.” (Ernst Mach).
It can simply be summarized as a principle of economy: if you can do the same thing with less, then less is better.
It appears to me this conceptual tool fits exactly the main tasks of design in these days of cognitive overload:
- clarify – separate information from decoration (remove the latter),
- convey – use the medium to its best potential and in the most efficient manner so that this information becomes a delightful experience (ex: storytelling).
You could read this extensive analysis of Ockham’s legacy, should you wish to explore this notion further.
Illustration: William of Ockham, from stained glass window at a church in Surrey.
This cracked me up:
"I keep hearing about Occam's razor. Do you know what it is?"
"Probably a razor owned by someone named Occam."
"Oh. Yeah, simple enough."
— James Miller (@ASmallFiction) November 6, 2016