Finding the Essence of a Product

I was recently reading the article Via Negativa by Adrian Zumbrunnen and found it a really nice reflection on the reasons for creating a simple product.

Minimalism in web design is an evergreen trend but how many of us have actually considered the reasons behind the process. Why make something minimal? The core takeaway is “the simple idea that we can add to design by subtracting from it”.


In the latest version of the Gutenberg plugin there is a new Spotlight mode, and a slightly cleaner layout when using the Unified Toolbar (which is what I am using to write this).

These are a cleaner version of the default Gutenberg experience that takes away some of the distractions to try and make the experience more pleasant for more experienced users. I think this is a good attempt to simplify the Gutenberg editor, but it doesn’t change the fact that the core experience is still a lot more complex than the classic editor.

The cms Ghost 2.0 launched last week, and it too has a block based editor. In fact a lot of the basic experience appears to be similar to Gutenberg. But they have kept it a lot cleaner. There are fewer block types, and fewer settings per block, which makes the whole thing a lot easier to understand.

From my perspective this approach to finding the essence of a product by reduction should definitely be applied to themes as well. I am currently working on a new theme designed to work perfectly with Gutenberg and removing the extraneous is definitely a theme I am trying to follow.

Inspired by Jack Lenox and his SustyWP theme I have attempted to cut the functionality back so that users can focus on the content of their site (since that’s what Gutenberg is all about) and not have to spend hours making something that looks half as good as the theme demo.

Was it good/ useful/ a load of old rubbish? Let me know on Mastodon, or BlueSky (or Twitter X if you must).

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