Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Simplicity Rules

John Maeda is the author of "The Laws of Simplicity" and founder of the Simplicity Consortium at MIT which  develops new methods and technologies in healthcare, play and communication built on these principles.

He works at the intersection of art and computing and is reponsible for much of the graphics "eye candy" that we find on the Internet today.

He wrote the book as a Simplicity 101 to help people in business, technology, design and life create simpler and better design solutions.

Here's a workshop based on his 10 laws you can use to design/develop/conceive of an artefact, product, method, procedure, service or way of seeing or being in the world.

Start with a design challenge: a product that is in need to thoughtful redesign, and follow these steps:

DESIGN CHALLENGE - What is the product, service, method or procedure that you would like to redesign? Describe it in great detail, its' features, what it does, how it does it, how it gives the customer some greater power, capability or usefulness, and what is its intent.
USER FEEDBACK - What have we learned from the customer about their experience of the product, service, method or procedure? What do they like about it? How do they feel it could be improved?
REDUCE - What can we do to thoughtfully reduce e.g. fewer buttons, shrink in size and complexity, hide some functions, embody the hidden value?
ORGANIZE - What goes with what, so the many appear fewer, or can be incorporated into a single or simpler controls, display, switch, suite of functions etc? Sort into categories, and simplify. Squint to see the forest for the trees.
TIME - How can we shrink time, or make the wait shorter, seem shorter or more tolerable? How do you inform progress?
LEARN - What metaphor could we employ so the artefact makes sense to the user by connecting to their lives, feels like they have seen it before, make a connection to a new capability, then work out how to do it themeslves? e.g. desktop giving access to folders and programs.
DIFFERENCES - In what other ways can we make the complex simple and use the emergent simplicity to enable more complexity?
CONTEXT - What's the appropriate balance between attention/focus and expansion/connection? How can it be more attuned/connected to the context?
EMOTION - What must be done to give the artefact a "life force" of its' own? Animate it, bring it alive, to which there can be an emotional connection/attachment? And for it's "being" be clearer and more meaningful, to achieve a greater return on emotion?
TRUST - In what ways can your design "think" for the user so they develop trust in and appreciation for what happens, so there is no need for an undone? But also that can be undone?
FAILURE - If, after "subtracting the obvious" and "adding the meaningful", it did not work out, what can you learn from the exeprience?
THE ONE - If all else has failed, how can you "move it far far AWAY" so more seems less, OR make it OPEN, so the power of the many outweighs the power of the few OR use less to gain more POWER, for example an in-built power source.

Maeda, J. (2006). The Laws of Simplicity. MIT Press: Cambridge

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