Tag Archives: design

John Maeda’s The Laws of Simplicity – Part I

Summary: Graphic designer and computer scientist John 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. (Amazon.com)

Maeda’s book discusses 10 key principles moving from the tangible to the abstract. His first principle of “Reduce” has three components:

Shrink: the smaller the object the more forgiving we are as users.
Hide: make the complexity go away, like a swiss army knife
Embody: once a product has been shrunk and features taken away embed a real or perceived sense of value in the product

So as a designer and facilitator of collaborative work events, the Hide concept really stands out for me, and here’s why: 

When getting 40 or 50 people to put their heads together and come up with something brilliant I try to make the session design as unobtrusive as possible while making the group activities as clear as possible. Participants have only what they need to do the task at hand and nothing more. As more information or tools is required, I introduce it and take away that which is no longer necessary (the Hide component).

The other two components (Shrink and Embody) are a bit more of a challenge to apply to a face to face collaborative event (but they were put to good use on the iPod shuffle), but it’s the process of finding a way to apply concepts such as those to face to face sessions that results in innovative new practices in my line of work and pushes the boundaries on what groups can do when working together.

So, I promise a future posting on how I was able to incorporate the “Shrink” component into a session. If the real skill in design is removing as much as possible rather than adding as much as possible, what