Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Laws of Simplicity

A summary of The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda ...

"I’ve recently finished a great book by John Maeda titled The Laws of Simplicity. In his book, Maeda covers 10 laws of simplicity. The first law is Reduce - the simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. Sounds pretty simple, right? Maeda is quick to point out, however, that you must be careful of what you remove. It’s not as easy as simply stripping things out, but instead removing what isn’t critical to the product or service.

We’ve all had experiences with a product or service, which has a battery of unnecessary features. Great products carefully balance absolute necessity with nice to haves. The iPod is a classic example. Other MP3 players existed prior to the iPod. But the iPod was arguably the first to truly get it right. Analysts and competitors criticized Apple for intentionally excluding features like a radio - the iPod had so much less, it was sure to fail. Once again, the analysts were wrong.

Once a product has been stripped of all that’s unnecessary, Maeda uses a principle, which he affectionately calls SHE – Shrink Hide Embody.

SHRINK - People are amazed by small, unassuming, powerful objects. We are more forgiving of these smaller objects when they misbehave. Additionally, smaller objects are less intimidating than larger ones. Maeda uses the comparative illustration of a spoon and a bulldozer. Both serve the same primary purpose - to scoop and move materials. A spoon is much easier to operate than a bulldozer. And if a spoon falls on you, well, your day pretty much continues status quo. A bulldozer on the other hand, well, that would be a very bad day."    (Continued via toddwarfel)    [Usability Resources]

Human Factors Methods for Design: Making Systems Human-Centered

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