the simplest thing

do the simplest thing

You should always do the simplest possible thing that will get you the results you need. In order to figure out what the “simplest thing” might be you need to have a strong idea about what the “results you need are”.

be specific

Many times people start out with an idea about a tool: “We need to have a blog”. This makes it hard to think about whether a blog is the simplest possible thing because there is no clear idea about what the blog is for. If you start out with an idea like “we need to keep our website fresh and up to date”, then you can discuss whether a blog would be the simplest possible way to do that. One good way to define the “results you need” is to think about them in terms of tests.

don’t try to do it all at once

Doing the “simplest” thing is often about separating out what you need “right now” from what you might need “some day”.

If you need to have a list of “events” on your website you can start with a plain HTML page that lists events, and update the page once a week or once a month.

If the page proves popular and you want to make it easier to enter events, or possible for people to see past events… or other complex things, then you can convert the page to a data driven calendar of some kind. At this point you know that the extra work of installing the calendar and learning how to use it will pay off, because you already know that the events page on your site is a success.  If you go to all the work of building a complicated events page first and it turns out that very few people on your site ever look at your events, then you have invested a lot of work and time for very little reward.

Trying to “do the simplest thing” is a lot easier if you are working in a way that allows you to make incremental changes.