Minimalism in documentation

Minimalism is the idea that less is more; that fewer “bells and whistles” is better; that good design leads to intuitive, natural, and instant use. How can you adopt minimalism in your documentation?

Text by Leah Guren


Minimalism in documentation

Image: © Denis Iachimovschi/

John Carroll, the leading proponent of minimalism in software design, introduced the idea of progressive information disclosure – the process of showing information based on what the user selected, rather than showing everything at once. Carroll insisted that a product should be so intuitive that people could instantly use it without having to read a single page of the documentation.

What is minimalism?

Minimalism in documentation is the idea that:

  • you don’t need to document every single aspect of most products;
  • users can play with the product and discover functions on their own;
  • fewer words on a page (or screen) improves navigation (the ability to find content);
  • writing in a simple, straight-forward language improves comprehension.

Minimalism is more than removing fluff. Fluff comes in many forms: unnecessary words (saying something in 20 words instead of 5), overly complex ...