On the difficulty of simplicity

Stephen Pratley
2 min readJan 12, 2017


We have a modern-day version of this same quote from Steve Jobs.

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

The iPod, simplicity itself, just a single disc, compared to all the knobs buttons and dials of the Sony Walkman.

It’s hard. Hard to keep “feature creep” at bay. It’s hard to resist the idea that bigger is better. It’s hard to resist the one-off requests from customers for “essential” items.

It’s certainly hard to take things away once they’re in play.

The more I see of really high quality though, it rarely involves more.

Really great courses teach just enough to get a great result without overwhelming you with needless diversions.

Really great copy can cut through to the “I MUST have that” with a single bullet point, or just the headline.

Really great tools usually do one thing really well. I still have a tiny lock-knife in my office drawer that gets more use than the Swiss Army knife sat next to it.

And it’s hard in marketing too.

To have the belief in a single headline on a landing page to hit your prospect’s nerve such that they have to continue, to keep the text in your ad to a minimum. To aim so squarely at one target that you know you’ll miss the second one.

And lastly, to ignore the funnel gurus and their endless upsells, down-sells, segmentations and variations.

To be so clear about the ONE thing your customer needs right now that you can just hold it up in front of them.

That’s why I went back to simplicity when I created the The Foundation Funnel. To get you started with a minimum of tools, pages, copy and work for your client to do, so you can spend your time testing and refining that message until it’s as stripped back, elegant, and desirable as an iPod.

(This article was originally published on my email newsletter at stephenpratley.com)