Cyrus Stoller home about consulting

Minimalist design is the way to go

I’m a big fan of minimalist design. Figuring out how to boil an idea down to its quintessential elements is critical, but difficult. Most people aren’t interested in the nuances of your website (even if they’re politely saying they are). Understanding the intricacies of your product is super important, but it’s equally important to know when to share these details.

Figuring out the key pieces

It’s difficult to look at my own work objectively after I’ve spent all day thinking about it. It’s important to regularly ask people for feedback. It’s useful to frame potential new features in terms that people are already familiar with.

Most people have a hard time defining what they want in a website.

In addition to gauging reactions, I also pay attention to how long it takes people to understand and internalize ideas I’ve presented. If, without missing a beat, they can internalize it and start telling me how it would be useful to them, I take this as a cue to continue working on that idea. On the other hand, if they pause to think about it or follow up with a question that demonstrates they don’t quite understand it, I know that it needs more refinement.


Getting people to tell you what they think

It can be hard to get people’s honest opinions if they know you’re working hard and are trying to be supportive. They’ll tell you your site looks good, even if it doesn’t, to avoid hurting your feelings. Ironically, this is doing you a huge disservice.

In the worst case, you’ll waste time working on a feature that has no potential. You’re better off helping people to be brutally honest with you.

I’ve found that by pro-actively asking for critical feedback, people are more willing to share their skepticism than they are before I’d given them “permission.” At the end of the day, you need to work out as many kinks as possible as early as you can, since you won’t have an opportunity to explain yourself and your design to a stranger who stumbles into your website.


Keep you design simple, so that it’s hard for a user to get confused about what she/he is supposed to do. Make sure that your design and workflows are self-explanatory. Cut out the fluff and get straight to the point. People’s attention spans are short. If they get confused, they’re going to go somewhere else.

Category Advice