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My friend Andy Bell shared this thought with me earlier this week:

Under-engineering is the art of thinking rather than doing… the solution to some complex problems has been slowing down and finding simpler solutions, rather than throwing tech at it.

Unsurprisingly, this resonates with me a lot.

“Finding simpler solutions” is at the heart of the Lean Web, and the approach I advocate for every day with my newsletter, guides and courses, and training program.

Far too often, we throw more tech at things that could be solved more simply, more elegantly, in a way that’s better for us and the people who use the things we make, by taking a second to step back and think.

This is why I advocate planning things out on paper instead of in a text editor.

In his article on how the Every Layout website works, Andy shared this example:

We could have come up with some convoluted way of distributing content to users, but that would only make us a few extra dollars in revenue protection by creating a walled garden around the site, which would actually create us a lot of technical debt, with all of the support queries that would inevitably come with it.

What we’ve landed on instead, after hours of thinking (and poor Heydon having to listen to my endless brain farts), is something criminally simple. We just use your email to check that you have a licence and that is it.

The thing is, making stuff complicated is easy. Making it simple is hard.

Before you start coding, take a few moments to think through what you’re trying to do, and why.