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The Laws of Simplicity [Hardcover]

John Maeda
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 7 2006 0262134721 978-0262134729 1

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, but also does all the complex things we might ever want it to do. In The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design--guidelines for needing less and actually getting more.Maeda--a professor in MIT's Media Lab and a world-renowned graphic designer--explores the question of how we can redefine the notion of "improved" so that it doesn't always mean something more, something added on.Maeda's first law of simplicity is "Reduce." It's not necessarily beneficial to add technology features just because we can. And the features that we do have must be organized (Law 2) in a sensible hierarchy so users aren't distracted by features and functions they don't need. But simplicity is not less just for the sake of less. Skip ahead to Law 9: "Failure: Accept the fact that some things can never be made simple." Maeda's concise guide to simplicity in the digital age shows us how this idea can be a cornerstone of organizations and their products--how it can drive both business and technology. We can learn to simplify without sacrificing comfort and meaning, and we can achieve the balance described in Law 10. This law, which Maeda calls "The One," tells us: "Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful."


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this breezy treatise, graphic designer and computer scientist Maeda proposes ten laws for simplifying complex systems in business and life-but mostly in product design. Maeda's upbeat explanations usefully break down the power of less-fewer features, fewer buttons and fewer distractions-while providing practical strategies for harnessing that power, such as SHE: "Shrink, Hide, and Embody." The first three laws, based on principles of reduction, organization and efficiency, form the foundation for increasingly complex and self-referential concepts like the importance of context and the potential for failure in simplification (by the end of the book, Maeda is chiding himself for using too many acronyms). Combined with trust and emotional engagement (laws 7 and 8), Maeda demonstrates how complex systems can become downright lovable: Maeda recalls "the Tamagocchi craze of the late 1990s... showed that anyone could fall in love with a small electronic keychain," drawing a corollary to the almighty iPod (an iconic example referred to throughout). Emphasizing the delicate balance-work involved in simplifying the complex, Maeda admits the process isn't easy, and that his ten laws don't necessarily provide all the answers-in numerous places, he directs readers to the web site where his theories continue to develop. Despite that, this slim book feels complete in itself; not only will it stimulate ideas, it will keep readers thumbing back for a second and third look at Maeda's deceptively simple advice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"If brevity is the soul of wit, simplicity is the soul of design. John Maeda uses the concept of simplicity to get at the nature of human thought and perception while drawing out tangible applications for business, technology, and life in general. *The Laws of Simplicity* is thoroughly optimistic, entertaining, and erudite, just as you would expect from Maeda. It is also the most compelling one hundred pages of design writing I have read this year." -- Rob Forbes, Founder, Design Within Reach



" Abstract recommends this book particularly to marketing people, product designers and technical writers." -- GetAbstract



"FINALLY, a book about simplicity that is not too academic to read.... At the book's heart is the Shinto belief in animism, the spirit in all objects. Nicholas Negroponte, one of Maeda's mentors, once told him to become a lightbulb, not a laser beam. This he has done; all this and more." -- Susan Salter Reynolds, The LA Times



"I planned to skim/sample John Maeda's book, then decide to endorse it -- or not. I quickly found myself mesmerized -- and thence the only issue was deciding what were the strongest words I could muster in support of The Laws of Simplicity. The book is important; and Maeda has made an absurdly complex subject -- simplicity -- approachable and usable. Bravo! I hope the people who design the products I'll acquire in the next ten years take this book to heart." -- Tom Peters



"John Maeda's new book, The Laws of Simplicity, is simply terrific. It's exactly 100 pages, the illustrations are brilliant and the 10 Laws of Simplicity (plus Three Keys) are a canon to design one's entire life, much less specific products, services or business models. The subtitle is: Design, Technology, Business, Life." -- Bruce Nussbaum, BusinessWeek's blog "NussbaumOnDesign"



"Keep it simple, Stupid" is an old piece of advice, so much so that it's often abbreviated as the "KISS principle." But it's advice that's often ignored, and MIT Professor John Maeda aims to change that.... Designers and marketers will find Maeda's book both interesting and useful...." -- New York Post



"Maeda's Laws and Keys have an obvious practical application in everyday running of a busy life (and desktop); they also have the potential to translate into a productive methodology for any craft or design practice.... A very humble, enlightened and caring human, John's written a little bible." -- Liz Farrelly, Crafts Magazine



"Maeda's upbeat explanations usefully break down the power of less-fewer features, fewer buttons and fewer distractions-while providing practical strategies for harnessing that power.... Emphasizing the delicate balance-work involved in simplifying the complex, Maeda admits the process isn't easy, and that his ten laws don't necessarily provide all the answers-in numerous places, he directs readers to the web site where his theories continue to develop. Despite that, this slim book feels complete in itself; not only will it stimulate ideas, it will keep readers thumbing back for a second and third look at Maeda's deceptively simple advice." -- Publishers Weekly



"Technology and life seem to be getting more complicated, yet two great success stories, Google and the iPod, both provide the antidote of simplicity. In The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda uses humble prose to provide an accessible guide, business and life, observing the principle: 'Simplicity equals sanity.'" -- David Smith, The Observer



"I planned to skim/sample John Maeda's book, then decide to endorse it -- or not. I quickly found myself mesmerized -- and thence the only issue was deciding what were the strongest words I could muster in support of *The Laws of Simplicity*. The book is important; and Maeda has made an absurdly complex subject -- simplicity -- approachable and usable. Bravo! I hope the people who design the products I'll acquire in the next ten years take this book to heart." -- Tom Peters


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I watched the process whereby my daughters gleefully got their first email accounts. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable and obvious Nov. 6 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
On one level, it may just be that this book hasn't stood the test of time. It's chock full of clichéd references to business school srsndards liie the ipod, FedEx and McDonalds that certainly day nothing you won't already have heard elsewhere.

On another level I doubt it was ever a very satisfying read. Rather than being the concise guide to a fundamental design philosophy that ut tries to be, it ends up reading more like an extended résumé of the author - a kind of auto-hagiography. I thought at first it would end after the preface, but no.

If I'd picked this book up in a bookstore I have to say the pose aped by the author in his dust jacket photo would probably have prevented me from making the mistake of buying it. I hope this review does the same for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book July 23 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Laws of Simplicity is a great read and the content applies to everything in your life. John Maeda got it right. I read this book every time I am stuck on a problem
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2.0 out of 5 stars Boring Jan. 2 2012
By Mark A.
Format:Hardcover
Well the book is dated for sure but the author must think people are real idiots. The concepts in this book were so boring and obvious he could have stopped after listing his ideas and said have fun.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple simplicity Sept. 23 2009
Format:Hardcover
Very good little book. Even if you are not an interface designer, it is very interesting.
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