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Doing Less with More: The Elegance of Denovation

Denovate This

Are you looking to create the next killer Web site or app? Perhaps you should start by denovating.

Elegant Web experiences mingle utility with a spirit of "denovation" -- a word from Jeremy Alexis, who defines the term as "the attempt to simplify or reduce the number of products without reducing the service performed. Denovation provides a clear path to elegance."

Successful Web sites and applications, well-tended by humans, naturally lend themselves to a denovative approach. You can shed unnecessary or cumbersome features and pages to create a firmer focus on a user's greatest needs. Much like pruning a tree in order to preserve its health, a site whose growth is managed in this way can maintain its systemic and formal elegance over time.

Web sites and apps need to evolve as user behaviors change. In this fashion, the Internet conforms to the same natural rules as humans because these billions of pages are created by humans and fed by humans. So if we view elegant Web sites as being organic in nature, then we can read "denovation" as a form of natural selection. Features whose level of use fall at the very far end of the long tail should be pruned.

Reducing features also has an added benefit: you gain more space in which to evoke positive feeling, not cognitive friction. Can you imagine if they did such a thing with, say, Microsoft Word? I think the overall level of anger in today's society would drop substantially...

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