“Simply” is a loaded word.

In technical documentation, the author assumes the reader already knows what they’re doing. It assumes prior knowledge on a subject. It assumes that just because one person considers a task trivial, that everyone else will too.

Worst of all, it makes the reader feel stupid.

Brad Frost puts it best in his article “Just” from 2015:

“Just” makes me feel like an idiot. “Just” presumes I come from a specific background, studied certain courses in university, am fluent in certain technologies, and have read all the right books, articles, and resources. “Just” is a dangerous word.

I feel the same about “Simply”.

It first occurred to me how this sort of language is damaging when running a workshop for Sky a few years ago. Teaching can be challenging. You not only have to articulate how something works in order to teach it, but you also need to cater for the different skill levels and backgrounds of the audience. Words like “Simply” and “Just” are heavily overused in these scenarios, and you can quickly wind up in a situation where you’ve alienated your audience.

“Simply” is not the same as “Simpler” however.

While there have been many new technologies emerging over the past few years (and in the JavaScript world, more than ever before), there is a heightened emphasis on making things simpler. Whether it’s stripping back the platforms people use to blog (Medium being a good example of that), or distilling the creation of websites and applications down into more uncomplicated, granular parts (Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform again being prime examples).

Simpler is better, it makes software more approachable. It removes the need for phrases like “Simply” and “Just”.