Shuttleworth's Position: "Less Is More!"

Mar 26, 2010

Mark Shuttleworth has expressed in his blog why he considers his motto "Less is More" to be important. He has applied it to certain design decisions for Ubuntu 10.04.

Hardly has the blush fallen from the issues of window decorations and button arrangements when another topic of interest has hit the discussion mill in the Ubuntu community - the missing tooltips in GNOME panels. While opponents of the change charge that Ubuntu is thereby less user-friendly, proponents counter with the "clean up!" argument.

Shuttleworth has now once again affirmed his decision in his blog with his favorite expression "less is more." As he said, "It turns out that all of those extras add some value, but they also add clutter. There's a real cost to them - in attention, in space, in code, in QA." He stands by his decision, even if time will tell whether they were made with the best thought in mind:

"I apologise in advance for the mistakes that I will certainly make, and which others on the design team may make too, but I think it's important to defend our willingness to pare things back and let the core, essential goodness shine through. We have to balance innovation and change with clarification and focus. We can't *stop* innovating and changing, and we have to be willing to remove things that someone will miss."

At the same time, Shuttleworth remarked that generally much too little emphasis was put on design in the past and that he was glad it was getting some attention lately. Here, too, he defended the decisions of his team: "It's hard to bring clarity in a crowd. Or mob."

Shuttleworth encouraged everyone to participate in bug reports and the discussion as a whole, with constructive criticism sought even in the Ayatana mailing list.

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