Subtractive Solutions

If the people visiting your website are filling out a form incorrectly, you could add some instructions to the form to make it clearer.

Or you could just redesign it to remove the confusing part.

When faced with a problem, it's easy to focus on additive solutions ("How do I instruct people to do this correctly?"), rather than subtractive ones ("What can I remove so that this needs no instruction?")

One study showed that when tasked with making a pattern of blocks symmetrical by either adding or removing blocks, only 20% of people chose to remove them.

Our minds are naturally drawn to additive solutions. But often, you can make a problem go away by simply removing the source of it, rather than adding a solution.

See also: Simplicity is Hard


Reflections on creating systems to sustainably grow your impact on the world.
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