The Agile Tribe

The Laws of Simplicity – The Review

on April 6, 2010

Author: Shane Hastie

I was recently loaned a copy of a great little book “The Laws of Simplicity” by John Maeda.

Laws of Simplicity

In an easy to read 100 pages he presents a straightforward set of rules to guide the design of any product or service, focusing on delivering the simplest experience possible.

He extols the virtues of simplicity –

  • clean, clear interfaces and interactions that create positive user experiences and
  • contribute to customer delight.

Using less to deliver more – less features, less buttons and less distractions to create an experience that allows the user, operator or customer to achieve their goals in the easiest and simplest manner.

He includes examples of how simplicity is achieved in synergistic design of product and process, such as the entire customer experience that makes the Apple iPod successful – the device on its own isn’t any better than other MP3 players on the market (in fact it has less functionality than most) but the combination of the cleanly designed product and the supporting system (iTunes software and the iTunes store) create an outstanding customer experience, and result in market beating results for Apple.

His 10 laws are:

  1. Reduce – The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction
  2. Organise – Organization makes a system of many appear fewer
  3. Time – Savings in time feel like simplicity
  4. Learn – Knowledge makes everything simpler
  5. Differences – Simplicity and complexity need each other
  6. Context – What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral
  7. Emotion – More emotions are better than less
  8. Trust – In simplicity we trust
  9. Failure – Some things can never be made simple
  10. The One – Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.

He provides clear pointers and great examples for each of the laws, and some great advice on how to apply them to the design and development of any product.

He continues the dialogue and provides lots more advice and examples in the book’s companion website.

If you’re looking for advice on designing and building great products and processes that deliver value in the simplest way possible then I encourage you to read this book!


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