Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Laws of Simplicity

While I was in the process of researching my last post on Usability Challenges in Mobile Devices, I ran across a reference to an interesting fellow by the name of John Maeda. John is a graphic designer, visual artist, computer scientist and professor at the MIT Media Lab. He is also the author of the book The Laws of Simplicity.

John's website is very interesting as it is thought provoking. I often think about how PinPoint Performance Solutions serves our customers and overall our mission is to make the complex as simple as possible for everyone involved - from the developers on down to the end-users. As we apply John Maeda's laws (10 of them total) to user-centered design and usability in software and web application development, here are a couple that caught my attention:

  • Law 1 - Reduce: the simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. I think of many user interfaces I have encountered over the years, even some I use on a daily basis. Is it really necessary to have all those buttons and all those tabs when all I want to do is one or two simple tasks? This law just screams, "Know your end-user!"
  • Law 4 - Learn: knowledge makes everything simpler. Feels like performance support systems to me. If end-users are empowered with knowledge on how to use something that on the surface seems complex, they are more likely to accept it rather than reject it.
Again, very thought provoking work from John Maeda. Simplicity is something I encourage you to learn more about and the best place to start would be with John's website.

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