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The Laws of Simplicity

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,759 Ratings  ·  180 Reviews
Ten laws of simplicity for business, technology, and design that teach us how to need less but get more.
ebook, 0 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by MIT Press (first published July 7th 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Erika RS
This short (100 page) book gives 10 laws and 3 key properties for designing simple systems. Maeda provides a hand summary of the laws and key principles:

Ten 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 sim
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Brynn
Dec 03, 2010 Brynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Simplicity is about the unexpected pleasure derived from what is likely to be insignificant and would otherwise go unnoticed." (2)

"The Pareto Principle is useful as a rule of thumb: assume that in any given bin of data, generally 80% can be managed at lower priority and 20% requires the highest level. Everything is important, but knowing where to start is the critical first step." (14)

"The best designers in the world all squint when they look at something. They squint to see the forest from the
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Ettore Pasquini
Jan 22, 2013 Ettore Pasquini rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: design
If this book was supposed to make me a better designer, it failed. It's a collection of thoughts on design taken from a more abstract/holistic point of view. This wouldn't be a bad idea in itself, if only these reflections were a little more insightful. For some (most?) of them I failed to read between the lines. Example: What good is to explain how the TAB key works and how powerful it is in organizing data? Or forcing gratuitious acronyms upon your readers and pretending they'd remember them? ...more
Jay
Sep 28, 2014 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, audiobook
This is really a list of 10 or 13 laws/principles of simple design, with a little discussion and a few examples under each. The laws seemed pretty simple, so simple they seemed either self evident or not a large leap to extrapolate from experiences. I didn't find anything groundbreaking, but it is good to have a list like this to think about when you hit a design issue. I listened on audio, and this had the issues of most books focusing on lists - it gives the listener too much to remember. I'd ...more
Rob
well, i was hoping for much more philosophy. turned out to be mostly about product design.

also, the register was often annoyingly sort of oprahish. explaining to the reader why certain objects make them feel certain emotions, with the implication that if you follow these instructions and buy objects satifying the following guidelines, you'll soon be feeling better emotions.

that said, i actually really liked most of the 10 laws, and just wish that in the exposition he'd had more examples about bu
...more
TarasProkopyuk
Mar 01, 2012 TarasProkopyuk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Великолепная книга!
И близко не ожидал, что дизайн занимает такое большое пространство в нашей жизни. Такое моё восприятие возможно из-за того что я логик, а дизайн и логика это как два противоположных полюса. Но тем не менее рискну предположить, что эта книга очень сильна в своей тематике. «Законы простоты» та книга, которую следует прочитать всем, кто причастен к создании и воплощению в жизнь услуг, товаров, и прочих ценностей. Читать просто обязательно! :)
Mat Ranson
I like Maeda, I have one of his old design books. This one started off well enough but quite soon I began to feel it wasn't really aimed at me. Maeda has a great capacity for summarising and shrinking information into simple, digestible phrases, but I couldn't help thinking with The Laws Of Simplicity he was shaping aesthetics and technology into metaphors aimed at middle managers looking for the latest self-help book.
Sophia
Jun 09, 2015 Sophia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book starts off on a strong note with the first law of simplicity: thoughtful reduction. Reduction is achieved through the principles of shrinking, hiding and embodying. Technologies have been simplified through technological progress, which has allowed small objects to have the same technological capability as larger ones. The size of an object leads to surprise and awe and can be more forgiving than a larger one. An object can also be simplified by hiding features and leaving only the esse ...more
T Cho
Jun 09, 2014 T Cho rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Maeda's The Laws of Simplicity is a delightful, tasteful read. It is a book about design, technology, art, feelings, philosophy, humans, nature, human nature, and everything in between.

First of all, when I saw the book nobly sitting on the shelf in the Museum of Art and Design in NY, I found myself immediately gravitating towards it. I was enticed by its slim size and sleek, fashionable cover. I can assure you that the book's impressive looks are matched by the impressive content and insig
...more
Rafael Bandeira
Jan 19, 2011 Rafael Bandeira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Designers, Minimalists, Managers, Entrepreneurs
Recommended to Rafael by: Franco Marsillac
Shelves: to-re-read
Good study on what simplicity, both real and perceived, are made of, and what to focus on to achieve it. For product design or business management, or even daily life, good concepts are present in the book to help simplify or better understand the complexity around these.

The book is written in a personal and casual tone, sometimes even funny, that transmits a lot about the author, John Maeda, and gives an enjoyable feeling to follow through, as sounds a lot like a conversation. The small size al
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Glenda
Apr 03, 2013 Glenda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Maeda's short, direct essays on the "laws of simplicity" as he defines them, are from a technical viewpoint (both design and technology), but accessible, fresh, and thoughtful. The most engaging ideas for me, as a writer, concerned the role of design in discerning "clarity" (of thought, product, purpose) and that essence within art (what is moving, unexpected, transcendent, beautiful perhaps) that is fundamental to the human spirit, a luminous "reason" for living. This is a likable book tha ...more
Vishal Solanki
May 20, 2015 Vishal Solanki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book for those who want to think about their Innovative approaches! Each title of the Chapter gives us a view what it is gonna deal with which helps us reduce the simplest way to achieve simplicity that could be through thoughtful reduction.organisation makes thing look more organised and easier to solve and fewer, which in turn helps in saving time.Learning helps us gain knowledge and help us complete our task in much easier way..Trust in yourself to achieve big.Failure makes us weak but ...more
Leticia
Sep 05, 2015 Leticia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
John Maeda, fascinated by simplicity, has distilled the art of simplicity down to 10 Laws. This text walks you through them, and it is not exactly a simple work.

I say that it is not simple because, while it is a short read it is a lot of information to process. In the beginning, the author states that you could read this in a lunchtime. Well, not unless your lunchtime is at least three hours' long: That's actually how long it took me to read it, over two days. Maybe this days more about the type
...more
Jaybekay
Jul 21, 2014 Jaybekay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jaybekay by: designer, lecturer
So...

I attended a course at university which is called "digital sign systems". This course was all about teaching software people how to use basic elements of design (typo, shapes, colors, ...) in information technology. The course was really interesting and fun, so as the lecturer mentioned this book as a should-read, I was curious what it might be about.

First I thought this book might bring ten principles/instructions that you should abide when you're designing a product/software. But as you
...more
Victoria
Dec 06, 2015 Victoria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic
The Laws of Simplicity

The Laws of Simplicity is a collection of classified thoughts, mostly on design. They are offering how to balance simplicity and complexity by following some guidelines to “subtract the obvious and add the meaningful” . We cannot entirely remove complexity, but we can create something simple and easy to use, but still doing all the complex things we might ever want it to do”.

A lot has changed since 2006, but these laws can still be applied, and in a wide range of areas. These laws and principle
...more
Vulgrin
This is a sort of "Zen and the art of Being Simple." It's not full of practical advice, but more of a thought-process and style that you should apply to everything to make it simple. Some good underlying principles for those who are designers or who need to communicate ideas, but quite lacking in practical application.

Amusing book for a limited audience I think.
Mikal
Jan 25, 2014 Mikal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth book I've read in my direct exploration of simplicity. The Laws of Subtraction, Wabi-Sabi, and Simple: Conquering the Art of Simplicity. Not to mention Dieter Rams: Less And More.

This book is in the same vein as "Wabi-Sabi" it is a meditative reflection of the meaning of simplicity. The meaning of the book is in its openness of it's structure. While many books provide a framework to be followed in a procedural fashion. The Laws of Simplicity provide an open framework to be con
...more
Earl Gray
My review of this remarkable, spare, and beautiful book is this quote from the author:

"Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful." - John Maeda

This is one I will reread often. I hope you do, too.
Simon Bostock
May 15, 2011 Simon Bostock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-team
This is a kind of 'barely book' - it's slight, in every sense of the word, and I can barely recall any of it. But I wrote oodles in the margins. And I've thought 'through' the book many times.

Go figure.
Chase Lin
May 08, 2014 Chase Lin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
The Laws of Simplicity is not much a philosophical venture or a conclusion of a research study. The book seems like a collection of thoughts drawn from a personal blog with opinions based on other books and studies on the subject. The contents were rather casual and in fact a bit scattered. The rules laid out for achieving successful design with simplicity are regretfully a bit superficial with little focus on psychology, sociology, and neurology. Which in my opinion, are the three major factors ...more
Allen
Jun 30, 2009 Allen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is surprisingly subpar material from someone I greatly admire. The book lacks historical context and the examples used are quite ho-hum.
lucie parenkyuma
Jan 30, 2015 lucie parenkyuma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
It is a nice reading experience, really.
Never thought laws of simplicity do even exist until I was recommended this book by a certain website.

Well, to be honest, I do need to read it again to fully grasp the theories behind it. Quite practical, sure they are! The book simply summarizes that less is more, but still, complexity is sometimes needed to reach the simplicity. I do think the book seems to focused mainly on product designs, but the laws, as the author described it, could be applicable
...more
John
Oct 10, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was pretty good - I'm using some of the points in a software UI guideline doc I'm writing for my work.
Andrea
Jun 14, 2012 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Maeda's point of view on Simplicity is well established following 10 years of effort at MIT to define it in context of today's acknowledged complexity. It is a very simple book to read and offers a host of "mnemonics" to help the reader remember the 10 laws. I found the most interesting chapter to be the seventh: The Law of Emotion or More Emotions are Better than Less. Maeda offers the thought that everything should be connected to how you feel and encourages readers to be sensitive to the ...more
Farhan Khalid
REDUCE

The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction

How simple can you make it <-> how complex does it have to be

SHE: Shrink - Hide - Embody

HER: Hide - Embody - Reduce

ORGANIZE

Organization makes a system of many appear fewer

SLIP: Sort - Label - Integrate - Prioritize

TIME

Savings in time feel like simplicity

How can you make the wait shorter <-> how can you make the wait more tolerable

LEARN

Knowledge makes everything simpler

BRAIN: Basics - Repeat - Avoid - Inspire
...more
Irfan
Jul 02, 2013 Irfan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love simplicity and I love this book. I generally read books on simplicity that are based only on the author's thoughts and experiences. In John Maeda's The Laws of Simplicity, everything about simplicity is logical and just make sense. Written by an expert on Graphic Design and Technology, this book says it all. Although I felt that his writing style is a bit too geek and techie, I could tolerate it for the professional quality of the content.

I thought that simplicity needs no other things to
...more
Vincent
Jan 19, 2012 Vincent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
J'ai lu il y a quelques jours un livre formidable de John Maeda, intitulé "The laws of simplicity". L'auteur est enseignant-chercheur au MIT et est spécialiste des sujets liés à l'utilisabilité et au design. Il offre ici en 100 pages brillantes de concision et d'efficacité quelques clés pour "simplifier" l'expérience offerte aux clients. Les lois, très simples sont les suivantes:















Tout ceci paraît basique, évident, pourtant ce ne l'est pas tant que ça. Une lecture indispensable qui permet de prend
...more
Nathan
Jan 03, 2016 Nathan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
33 pages into this book, I remember why I couldn't finish it the first time I attempted to read it. It reads too much like a personal account of the topic without enough data to back up the claims made. I find that they are made too casually to be convincing. His principles at time may seem like common sense, but I think that begs for a bit more research and data to back up the statements.

To be fair, he says that this is a personal exploration of the topic, and he will wait much later in his lif
...more
Satish Kumar
Feb 17, 2015 Satish Kumar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Based on a suggestion by my colleague, I took this book for getting a hold on the LAWS as such.
I was really surprised to see how simple things and things which can easily be misunderstood of their form can be classified.

There are cultural bases and preconceived notions behind every design decision, but these universal laws wrap
almost everything in perspective.

The summarisation and relation between every law is really good.

I just loved it.
Sarah White
I wanted this book to. Be more about simplicity in life than in design, but it is mostly about governing principles for simplicity in technological products. (And, having been written in 2006, has a delightfully dated obsession with the iPod.)

I picked it up because of a quote from the book I found online: "Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful." Turns out that was probably the most useful part of the book.
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Central Iowa UX B...: The Laws of Simplicity (John Maeda) 1 4 Sep 05, 2013 11:05AM  
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John Maeda [MY-ay-da] is a world-renowned artist, graphic designer, computer scientist and educator whose career reflects his philosophy of humanizing technology. For more than a decade, he has worked to integrate technology, education and the arts into a 21st-century synthesis of creativity and innovation.

Maeda's early work redefined the use of electronic media as a tool for expression by combini
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“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” 175 likes
“While great art makes you wonder, great design makes things clear.” 2 likes
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