Looking through my sparkfile*, I found a note about a principle of extreme programming (which is not to be confused with extreme frisbee) that is known as “YAGNI”.

The idea of YAGNI is that you shouldn’t add functionality to a program until you actually need it. This allows programmers to make incremental changes and release them on a rolling schedule. Think: many small steps instead of one giant leap that might trip you up.

So what does YAGNI stand for?

Drumroll please…

“You Aren’t Gonna Need It”.

It’s an approach that aenabled me to redesign and rebuild CycleLove as a responsive website in under a week.

Sure, it’s nice to have a search option, fullscreen image views and a beautifully designed about page. But for a temporary website? You aren’t gonna need it. (And by using CSS and WordPress frameworks I was able to design the parts of the website I did need right in the browser).

I’ll be adding all the missing features back to CycleLove the next few months, but first I wanted to have a blog that’s actually legible on a mobile phone.

YAGNI works in the real world too.

When I was hiking up in Scotland last month I took less clothes than ever before. Sure, it’s nice to have a fresh pair of socks and underwear every day or two. But when you’re in the middle of nowhere with only your similarly unwashed friends and some deer for company? You aren’t gonna need it.

Or let’s say you’re launching a new business. Sure, you might be dreaming about spot-varnished, triplex business cards and a kick-ass website with parallax scrolling. But when you don’t know who your customer is yet? You aren’t gonna need it.

Lay everything out on the table.

Take a step back.

Look at each item and ask yourself if you really need it?

Not if you might need it, but if things WILL BE COMPLETELY BROKEN ARGGHHH without it.

Keep the essentials, and then ditch everything else.

You aren’t gonna need it.

Less stuff = less decisions = greater focus.


If you need help applying YAGNI to your website or brand, let’s work together.


*More on sparkfiles here: 10 kinds of writing to experiment with on a daily basis.


Posted to: Life Uncategorised