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 (69 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda provides a guide for simplifying complex ideas and objects. It explains the ten laws of simplicity and how they can be applied to design and life.

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    The Laws of Simplicity
    Summary of 9 key ideas

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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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    Key ideas in The Laws of Simplicity

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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.

    The Laws of Simplicity Review

    The Laws of Simplicity (2006) by John Maeda is a guide that explores the power of simplicity in our complex world. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Provides practical strategies to simplify our lives, allowing us to focus on what truly matters.
    • Offers real-life examples and case studies that demonstrate the benefits of simplicity in various aspects of life.
    • With its clear and concise approach, the book presents complex ideas in an accessible manner, keeping readers engaged from start to finish.

    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
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    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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    The Laws of Simplicity FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Laws of Simplicity?

    The main message of The Laws of Simplicity is that simplicity can lead to better design, efficiency, and overall quality of life.

    How long does it take to read The Laws of Simplicity?

    The reading time for The Laws of Simplicity varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Laws of Simplicity a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Laws of Simplicity is worth reading for its practical insights on simplicity and its impact on design and life. It offers valuable lessons in a concise manner.

    Who is the author of The Laws of Simplicity?

    The author of The Laws of Simplicity is John Maeda.

    What to read after The Laws of Simplicity?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Laws of Simplicity, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Simplicity Principle by Julia Hobsbawm
    • Value Proposition Design by Alexander Osterwalder
    • Well-Designed by Jon Kolko
    • Don't Make Me Think, Revisited by Steve Krug
    • The Worst Business Model in the World by Danny Schuman
    • Laws of UX by Jon Yablonski
    • Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan
    • Simply Complexity by Neil F. Johnson
    • Start With Why by Simon Sinek
    • Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson