The Laws of Simplicity – John Maeda

When The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda first landed on my doorstep, I was disappointed – surely a book dealing with the complex topic of simplicity would be much bigger? I wondered how such a vast subject could be compiled down into such a skinny book. Then the penny dropped simplicity shouldn’t, by its very nature, be complicated.

Like us all, I juggle work, personal and family responsibilities: sometimes its chaos. My growing business and the issue of how to design my new Out-Smarts website has been at the forefront of my mind. I didn’t realise when I bought this book that it would give me insights into ways I can simplify each of these.

Maeda states up front that the book is not a series of steps to guaranteed simplicity nor does he have all the answers but what he does do in the book is highlight 10 Laws of Simplicity and draw on his own life experiences to highlight these. The ten laws as he sees them (and his list is still growing as we speak at the Laws Of Simplicity website) are:

  1. Reduce – make things less complex;
  2. Organise – adopt a systematic approach to keeping things in order;
  3. Time – less time spent waiting makes life seem less frantic;
  4. Learn – knowing more about something makes it seem simpler;
  5. Differences – for something to appear simple, it benefits from having something complex to compare it with;
  6. Context – ask yourself: what’s really important and whats not;
  7. Emotion – to achieve simplicity, you must have an emotional attachment to the subject at hand;
  8. Trust – trust in technology and other means that aid simplicity;
  9. Failure – Its impossible to simplify everything
  10. The One – be careful to see the wood from the trees.

For me this book really did kill several birds with one stone. It gave me some clarity into the simplicity required to make my new website more effective, it gave me a grounding from which to approach my business processes and it reminded me of some of the techniques I can use to keep the everyday chaos at bay!

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