The Laws of Simplicity Book Summary - The Laws of Simplicity Book explained in key points
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The Laws of Simplicity summary

John Maeda

Design, Technology, Business, Life

3.8 (55 ratings)
18 mins
Table of Contents

    The Laws of Simplicity
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    In this increasingly complex world, simplicity is a luxury.

    Have you ever wondered what makes Apple products, like the iPod and iPhone, so successful? The answer is that Apple has managed to make their products simple: easy to use and understand.

    And in a world that’s becoming increasingly complex – with more technology, more means of communication, more available information, etc. – simplicity has become a luxury worth striving to achieve. As such, simple products stand out in the market.

    For example, the iPod stood out among competing mp3 players precisely because it was simpler than the other complicated brands. Indeed, because technology will always become more and more complex, you too can make your own products stand out by striving for simplicity in their design.

    But how do you go about achieving simplicity?

    Simply put (pun intended!), simplicity is all about “subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.”

    The design of Apple’s iPod is a perfect example of these principles in action. Apple knew that adding different buttons for each and every function was the obvious design choice. So instead, the iPod shed all the complexity of other mp3 players by merging these different functions into a single, round control pad.

    By combining elegance with function and ridding the device of unnecessary complexities, they were thus able to create a meaningful innovation.

    The formula for simplicity isn’t just useful in the tech world; we can also use it in our private lives by subtracting the unimportant so the meaningful can stand out. For example, if you love someone, then taking away small talk and drama and simply acting according to your meaningful feelings will simplify – and enhance – the relationship.

    No matter what area of life, the right kind of simplicity can make things easier and more meaningful. These next blinks will explore exactly how.

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    What is The Laws of Simplicity about?

    The Laws of Simplicity consists of a set of “laws” formulated by the author to try to grasp the meaning and essence of simplicity. Along the way, it provides useful advice on how to introduce simplicity to our daily lives, business and product design.

    Best quote from The Laws of Simplicity

    (...) although the idea of ridding the earth of complexity might seem the shortest path to universal simplicity, it may not be what we truly desire.

    —John Maeda
    example alt text

    Who should read The Laws of Simplicity?

    • Anyone who wants to design successful products
    • Anyone who wants to bring more simplicity into their lives
    • Anyone in sales or marketing

    About the Author

    John Maeda is a graphic designer, computer scientist and visual artist, professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, and founder of the SIMPLICITY Consortium at the MIT Media Lab. He has also authored a number of books, including the critically acclaimed Design by Numbers.

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