There are two sides to this issue, though. (Aren’t there always?) When it comes to using less to be more, there is a fine balance between the two options. Often, to avoid clutter, we opt for less. However, at times, that “less” is actually nothing.
Think about the first place you lived as an adult. When you furnished it, you may have purchased (or inherited?) a sofa - maybe a loveseat or a chair. Your dining room (or area) may have consisted of just a table and chairs. If you were lucky, those chairs matched. Ha! Perhaps, your college life influenced your decorating habits; you didn’t hang pictures on the walls because you never stayed anywhere long enough to make it worth the effort. Maybe you didn’t purchase very much because you did not want to have to pack it all up each time you moved. You may have called your style “minimalist.” I really wasn’t though. It was nothing. All you had were the bare basics.
PowerPoint. Show of hands – who has endured a mind-numbing presentation where the speaker essentially put everything they wanted to say in bulleted paragraphs across a series of slides and then read them verbatim? Perhaps, you may have seen a speaker who tried to follow the less-is-more rule and just put the speaking points in bullets on that ubiquitous blue gradient background? PowerPoint is meant to be a visual aid people - not note cards. Please do not read from your slides. Use the slides to highlight your speaking points. Less is more.
However, nothing is nothing, so add images or color. They add interest. The same goes for reports, flyers, ads – the list goes on and on. Follow the less-is-more rule to get straight to your point, but create interest by adding a bit of visual embellishment.
The key is balance. Do not be afraid to add something to whatever it is you are preparing (designing) to show or share with others. When you had art to walls or surfaces, your house becomes a home, where not only your family, but your guests feel comfortable and wish to stay. When you insert an image or some color to your report, or perhaps your whitepaper, you add interest and your audience is more likely to absorb the information you want to communicate.
Manage the efficiency of your embellishments though. Nothing is nothing, so add interest, but don’t clutter. Strategically placed embellishments create impact. If you find yourself challenged and/or struggling to find that balance, that’s when you get a designer involved. Knowing how to balance white space and embellishment is the key factor in a designer’s job.
Less is more, but nothing is nothing. It is a universal rule. Apply it...universally.