- Series: Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life
- Hardcover: 117 pages
- Publisher: The MIT Press; Later prt. edition (August 21, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0262134721
- ISBN-13: 978-0262134729
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 104 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#66,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #14 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Engineering > Industrial, Manufacturing & Operational Systems > Industrial Design > Products
- #50 in Books > Arts & Photography > Decorative Arts & Design > Industrial & Product Design
- #117 in Books > Engineering & Transportation > Engineering > Mechanical
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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.
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)
Our lives and our businesses are faster and broader than ever. As such, they are also more complex and difficult to manage, for both customers and managers. Therefore, achieving simplicity in both our products and our organizations will be crucial for securing market share. No one has seen this more clearly than John Maeda, the Master of Simplicity. The Laws of Simplicity is a clear and incisive guide for making simplicity the paramount feature of our products; it's also a road map for constructing a more meaningful world.(Andrea Ragnetti, Board of Management, Royal Philips Electronics)
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)
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Having read other books written by Brian Solis, Larry Webber, Luke Williams and Chuck Martin in the last semester, I was expecting something amazing from John Maeda in "The Laws of Simplicity", especially since he is a Professor at MIT. Despite the weak reviews online from Amazon, I read the book with an open mind. I was even excited when I received it in the mail as the book was brilliantly designed. But as the old saying goes, "DO NOT JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER". Sad to say, I was disappointed with the book. The goal of the book is extremely worthwhile: to promote simplicity. It tries to do so in a small book, about 100 pages in small sized pages. However it is a major EPIC FAIL. Let me quickly take you through what I felt for each chapter.
Chapter 1 + 2: Reduce + Organize
Maeda takes you through the idea of SHE and how that by reducing and organizing the buttons on the Ipod will lead to success. While this chapter may be one of the better chapters, I personally feel it is another way of describing disruptive innovation. Innovation is creating products that make our life easier. Think of the the iPhone with its touch screen technology and its latest function Siri. Cars like Audi, Mercedes and BMW, start up with push of a button. What about the iRobot Roomba that cleans your floor for you or one of my favorites Delta Faucet Touch-2-O technology that washes your hands without turning the tap on. These examples are created from disruptive innovation and shares the same concept John Maeda is trying to describe in both chapters.
Chapter 3: Time
Ultimately, with advances in new technology, time is saved and our way of life becomes much more convenient. Job done quicker = Convenience
Chapter 4: Learn
I agree with him that we need to continue to learn and that repetition makes us better at what we do, but I feel he is stating the obvious. This is the same theory as "10000 hours" as found in the book Outliers: The Story of Success written by Malcolm Gladwell. That is how professional athletes, dancers, businessman get good and what they do, through constant repetition.
Chapter 5: Differences
Simplicity needs to co-exist with Complexity. This is the same as saying, Good versus Evil, Ying and Yang, Black and White, North and South...etc. You get the point.
Chapter 6: Context
What I would like to have seen in this chapter is Maeda talking about how Context has replaced Content as King in this digital age as users of the internet start to mature and evolve. However he talks about nothing being an important something and goes back again to the law of differences covered in chapter 5.
Chapter 7: Emotion
Contradicts chapters 1 and 2 as he says "More is better than less".
Chapter 8: Trust
Stating the obvious that consumers need to trust you if they were to use your product .
Chapter 9: Failure
This chapter itself was a complete failure.
Chapter 10: The One
My favorite chapter and I felt this one made the most sense. Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful. I should have taken Maeda's advice when he said to read the first 3 chapters and skip to chapter 10 to save time. He goes over 3 keys away, open and power. Out of the 3 keys I relate to "open" the best as businesses need to be more open or "transparent" if they are to succeed and remain competitive. The most transparent businesses will be the market leaders that will lead the industry into the next generation.
In conclusion, not only did Maeda keep repeating that he was from MIT, I found that Maeda used too many acronyms which were not mea I felt were tough to remember. For example SHE (Simplify, Hide, Embody), BRAIN (Basics, Repeat, Avoid, Inspire Never) and SLIP (Sort, Label, Integrate, Prioritize). I also felt that he made too many generalized statements, and he supported them with anecdotes, and circumstantial evidence to illustrate the points he wants to make. He did a good job in conveying the idea on simplicity, as the simplest ideas are usually the ones that are games changers. Think LittleMissMatched that sells socks in 3's or Zipcar where you pay by the hour or Xbox Kinect where you are the remote control.
Overall, 9 people have given this book a 1 star on amazon and I will be the 10th person to join the 1 star club. John Maeda may be a super bright person, but his talent is definitely not in writing.
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
Holmes was right, acknowledging how difficult it is to proceed through complexity to simplicity. In fact, I view complexity in that context as a crucible. More specifically, as container into which alchemists once placed raw materials and subjected them to intense heat, hoping to produce a pure and precious metal, perhaps gold. Like the falcon in Yeats's poem, the human mind circles high above more than it can possibly absorb and process, then make sense of. This is what William Wordsworth suggests in "The World Is Too Much with Us":
"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!"
And this is why Maeda believes that "simplicity = sanity." In a world that seems to become more complex each day, his on-going journey of discovery he realized how complex a topic simplicity really is, "and I don't pretend to have solved the puzzle...[and] am inspired to grapple with this puzzle many more years...Like all man-made `laws' [mine] do not exist in the absolute sense - to break them is no sin. However you may find them useful in your own search for simplicity (and sanity) in design, technology, business, and life."
It would be a disservice to Maeda as well as to those who read this review to list the ten "Laws." They are best revealed in context, within the frame-of-reference he creates for each. The same is true of the three "Keys to achieving simplicity in the technology domain" with which Maeda concludes his narrative. "Rarely do I have answers, but instead I have a lot of questions just like you." I am amazed by how much material he provides within only 100 pages. Additional resources can be obtained (at no cost) by visiting lawsofsimplicity.com.
It is worth noting that when Maeda "set out with youthful zeal to attack the simplicity question, [he] felt that complexity was destroying our world and had to be stopped!" Presumably others have experienced the same frustrations I have encountered when struggling to understand the directions provided in an operations manual or terms and conditions of a service warranty or when struggling to obtain assistance from a customer service representative who speaks slowly enough and clearly enough to be understood. Why does it have to be so (bleeping) complicated? After speaking at a conference, Maeda was approached by a 73-year old artist who took him aside and said, "The world's [begin italics] always [end italics] been falling apart. So relax." Maeda suggests that his reader take the same advice "and try to LEAN BACK while you read this book, if you can."
John Maeda may not get you to the "other side of complexity" but he can help you to preserve your sanity meanwhile. If that isn't a value-added benefit, I don't know what one is.
The same story is with this book. There's no essence really there, just high-level general statements. And just like with homeopathy it will not work.
Most recent customer reviews
Also great paper and package quality.
Worth to read.