Law 10: The One

Thu, Dec 14, 2006

Simplicity Rules

This is part of a series looking at John Maeda’s ten Laws of Simplicity.

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”

With a great definition like that, it should be clear why I think simplicity is everyone’s job. There is enough complexity in the world without even trying. The more meaningful sites we can add to the Web, the better.

With this single law, he fixes a failure he acknowledged in the ninth law:

“Simplicity is hopelessly subtle and many of its defining characteristics are implicit (noting that it hides in simplicity)… When in doubt, turn to the tenth law: the one. It’s simpler that way.

When something is too obvious, it’s probably unneeded. With the obvious removed, the meaningful comes into view. Here are the other nine laws of simplicity, stated in terms of The One:

Reduce Removes unneeded features.
Organize Saves some of the features for when needed.
Time Speeding up a process removes unneeded waste of time.
Learn Remove unneeded confusion by explaining.
Differences If everything is meaningful, nothing is.
Context Make the meaningful subtle.
Emotion Sometimes something can be obvious and meaningful.
Trust When we trust that we’re seeing something meaningful, even more can be removed.
Failure Sometimes with only the meaningful remaining, it’s still complex.

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  1. Simplicity Rules » Think bigger or think smaller Says:

    [...] Getting smaller means thoughtful reduction. Getting bigger means that you’ve left out something that is meaningful. It’s the same dance I discussed in my Laws of Simplicity series. [...]

  2. Simplicity Rules » The Two Simplicity Paths Says:

    [...] Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful. In that definition are the two paths to simplicity: tearing down and building up. [...]

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