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The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  3,918 Ratings  ·  221 Reviews
Finally, we are learning that simplicity equals sanity. We're rebelling against technology that's too complicated, DVD players with too many menus, and software accompanied by 75-megabyte "read me" manuals. The iPod's clean gadgetry has made simplicity hip. But sometimes we find ourselves caught up in the simplicity paradox: we want something that's simple and easy to use, ...more
Hardcover, 100 pages
Published July 7th 2006 by MIT Press (MA)
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(showing 1-30)
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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
Nov 10, 2010 Brynn rated it really liked it
"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
Ettore Pasquini
Jun 14, 2012 Ettore Pasquini rated it it was ok
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
Mar 31, 2009 Rob rated it liked it
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 satisfying 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 b
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
Mat Ranson
Jan 21, 2010 Mat Ranson rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 09, 2015 Sophia rated it did not like it
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
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
Rafael Bandeira
Jan 11, 2011 Rafael Bandeira rated it really liked it
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
Mar 05, 2013 Glenda rated it liked it
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
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
Jan 19, 2012 TarasProkopyuk rated it really liked it
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! :)
Feb 24, 2008 Tim rated it liked it
I thought it was ok...probably a book I will reach for in my design work, but overall I thought it was a little too "cutesy" and quaint. I think the underlying themes are timeless, but it felt like some of the methods they were presented would seem dated in a very short time. I think I get more insight/value from Mr. Maeda's blog.

Without giving anything away, I think the best (most important?) nugget of wisdom comes on the very last page of book.
Dave Sanders
Mar 06, 2009 Dave Sanders rated it liked it
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.
Simon Bostock
May 15, 2011 Simon Bostock rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Jun 30, 2009 Allen rated it it was ok
This is surprisingly subpar material from someone I greatly admire. The book lacks historical context and the examples used are quite ho-hum.
Sep 13, 2013 John rated it really liked it
This book was pretty good - I'm using some of the points in a software UI guideline doc I'm writing for my work.
Marek Zaskvara
Jun 06, 2017 Marek Zaskvara rated it liked it
Some good practical learnings can be taken from this book, however I don't like it that much. Although he has a good name within design and teaches at MIT, I don't like that he draws all of his examples only from his experience (sometimes it even comes to me that examples are a bit irrelevant) what he observes with his opinion. In this case, I would like to know more from other people.
May 07, 2017 Norah rated it it was ok

If you have read through books about product design and productivity, this book may not surpsise you as much. The only one that makes me think for a second is "the exception of simplicity is the dealing with emotions".
Santoshi Munuganti
May 23, 2017 Santoshi Munuganti rated it really liked it
Its a precise hundred page book which gives concised relevant information with plenty of opportunity for us to derive our own relevant interpretations of the laws.
May 19, 2017 krad rated it really liked it
Turned out surprisingly well, given my contempt and impatience for most design fluff-pieces. A little like the Art of War for modern design. Would rec if you're in the business.
Mar 20, 2017 Jake rated it liked it
. Stop putting so much clutter on my desk. Stop adding random buttons on my consumer products. AHHHHHH..

Amanda Koster
Mar 05, 2017 Amanda Koster rated it really liked it
I am part of John Maeda's fan club. I simply try to read whatever he writes or references.
Mar 05, 2017 Donna is currently reading it
I work with the guy who wrote this book!
Sep 05, 2015 Leticia rated it it was ok
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
Dec 04, 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
Farhan Khalid
Aug 02, 2013 Farhan Khalid rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, american

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


Organization makes a system of many appear fewer

SLIP: Sort - Label - Integrate - Prioritize


Savings in time feel like simplicity

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


Knowledge makes everything simpler

BRAIN: Basics - Repeat - Avoid - Inspire
Jan 19, 2012 Vincent rated it really liked it
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
Dec 26, 2016 Tiffany rated it really liked it
"The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. When in doubt, just remove."

"Feeling safe(by avoiding desperation), feeling confident (by mastering the basics), and feeling instinctive (by conditioning- through repetition) all satisfy rational needs. Inspiration from others serves a higher goal that, at least for me, is the true reward. The practice of education is the highest form of intellectual philanthropy."

"How directed can I stand to feel? VS. How directionless ca
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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.” 205 likes
“While great art makes you wonder, great design makes things clear.” 2 likes
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