The Laws of Simplicity

John Maeda

This delightful read, The Laws of Simplicity, is about design, philosophy, technology, and art. It will teach you how to make your ideas and works simpler and better.

Finally, we are discovering that sanity is simple. We are rebelling against too complex technology, DVD players with many menu options, and software that comes with 75 megabytes of “read me” manuals. The sleek technology of the iPod has made simplicity trendy. The paradox of simplicity, though, can often catch us off guard. We want something that is straightforward and simple to use but that also accomplishes every complex task we might ever need it to. In his book The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda outlines ten principles for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design. These rules can help you need less while really receiving more.

Maeda, an internationally recognized graphic designer and professor at MIT’s Media Lab, investigates the issue of how to redefine the term “better” such that it doesn’t always mean something more, something added on.

Reduce” is Maeda’s first rule of simplicity. Adding technological features isn’t always a good idea because we can. Additionally, Law 2 requires that the features we do have to be arranged logically so that consumers aren’t diverted by functions and features they don’t require. Simplicity, though, is not less for the sake of being less. Go straight to Law 9: Failure: Recognize that some things are never going to be made simple. Maeda’s succinct primer on simplicity in the digital era demonstrates how this concept can serve as the foundation for businesses and the products they produce—how it can influence both business and technology. We can develop the skill of simplification without abandoning ease and significance and reach the equilibrium outlined in Law 10. Maeda refers to this concept as “The One,” and it states that “simplicity is about removing the obvious and adding the meaningful.