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I'm writing copy for a new web application and I'm having some trouble with it.

On one headline I've written "It's dead simple ...", but while my client was reviewing it he asked if this is not too 'cool', and suggested "It's really simple ...".

The context is: Web 2.0 application, really COOL with a beautiful bright homepage design!

How can I convince him to use "Dead simple...", or am I wrong and "Really simple..." is better?

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Dead simple is an idiom and idioms can be great or horrible for your business communication. It depends on your audience (if they understand them or not). On average it is better to play it safe and use a widely understood term and more formal language (but again if you are trying to appeal to audience that like that term you might keep it). –  Unreason Dec 12 '11 at 13:39
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If you don't use dead simple, I'd suggest going with just "It's simple!" – really adds very little intensity, and then the ellipsis saps it all away. –  rdhs Dec 12 '11 at 13:50
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The question's not answerable. It depends on the audience. If you decide against dead, other common collocates in descending order of frequency are: this, (just) so, too, beyond, surprisingly, elegantly, and remarkably. corpus.byu.edu/coca/?c=coca&q=13532291 –  Brett Reynolds Dec 12 '11 at 14:17
    
Might there be users speaking English only as second language? And might they fail to understand "dead simple"? –  GEdgar Dec 12 '11 at 14:19
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@Unreason: I'm not sure dead simple is really an "idiom" as such. It's just that in common usage, dead frequently means "very". It's often used with easy, right, straight, and several other adjectives. –  FumbleFingers Dec 12 '11 at 15:33

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Dead simple is very informal. Whether or not you use it in preference to really simple depends entirely on the impression you want to make on your readers.

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The "Dead" adds strong emphasis, and any reader who does not find it simple will think you arrogant, assumptive, or both. I'd avoid it. Just plain "Simple" would be my choice.

What you find simple others may not. You are walking a line between encouraging your audience to continue without fear of complexity, and not sounding like what may rocket science to them is merely falling off a log to you.

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I agree with this. While you may be making a point, why not let the application speak for itself? The chances are that many people will not find it dead simple. The user can decide if they think it's "simple." Why not just describe what the app does, how it is intended to work, and how it may benefit them? I would hope that using an app would be enjoyable much more than "easy to use." If it's not easy to use, then that should be sorted out. Not only does "dead simple" make it seem like it's for dummies, it also makes the app sound, well - "simple." PS "falling off a log" = great. –  sheriffderek Apr 22 at 7:46

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