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The Laws of Simplicity

Design, Technology, Business, Life

By John Maeda
15-minute read
Audio available
The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life by John Maeda

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.

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

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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The Laws of Simplicity

Design, Technology, Business, Life

By John Maeda
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life by John Maeda
Synopsis

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.

Key idea 1 of 9

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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