10 Laws of Simplicity Developers should know

Richard Wong 8 September, 2008

Recently I revisited “” by John Maeda. He is a graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist at the MIT Media Lab. In the book, John proposes 10 laws for simplifying complex systems in business and life.

Although the book are mostly focused on product design, it could be applied to anything especially software development. It doesn’t matter whether you are coding or designing simplicity will always work and sale. Simpler code means less bug and less maintenance cost. Simpler interface means easier to learn and use.

The 10 laws are

Law 1: Reduce
The Simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction

Law 2: Organize
Organization makes a system of many appear fewer

Law 3: Time
Savings in time feel like simplicity

Law 4: Learn
Knowledge makes everything simpler

Law 5: Differences
Simplicity and complexity need each other

Law 6: Context
What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral

Law 7: Emotion
More emotions are better than less

Law 8: Trust
In simplicity we trust

Law 9: Failure
Some things can never be made simple

Law 10: The One
Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful

Comments so far

  1. pb September 9th, 2008 at 3:40 am

    Law 11: Two Words
    Start each law with two words, then a simple worthless description

  2. Wei Ling Chen September 22nd, 2008 at 2:40 pm


    I enjoyed reading your blog very much and was hoping to ask for your permission to republish. Could you please shoot me an email.

    Wei Ling

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