Design for simplicity.

The poet William Wordsworth once wrote, “The world is too much with us.” If this was true in the bucolic 18th and 19th centuries when Wordsworth lived, it is even more true today, when every gadget comes with an incomprehensible 100-page instruction manual.

2015_01_14 immagine 02Thus, simplifying people’s lives with your products and services is a surefire path to business success; it will endear you to your customers forever. In his aphoristic little book The laws of simplicity, graphic designer John Maeda has distilled all he knows about simplicity into 10 laws and three key ideas (thanks to Alessandro Garofalo for suggesting this book !). He sprinkles mnemonics, icons and graphics throughout, which you may enjoy if you’re a visual learner or find baffling if you’re not. If you really like the icons, you can download them from the web site Maeda put together to complement the book.

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Here are the 10 laws …

  1. REDUCE. The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.
  2. ORGANIZE. 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.

… and the three keys:

  1. AWAY. More appears like less by simply moving it far, far away.
  2. OPEN. Openness simplifies complexity.
  3. POWER. Use less, gain more.

Here is John Maeda in his TED talk of 2007.


2015_01_14 immagine 01John Maeda is a computer scientist, visual artist, graphic designer and professor of media arts and sciences at MIT. He has received many design awards. Former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, he is dedicated to linking design and technology. Through the software tools, web pages and books he creates, he spreads his philosophy of elegant simplicity.

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