"The Laws of Simplicity" by John Maeda is a great, short read, and has dozens of insightful thoughts that will inspire you to live....simpler.
I am not much of a literary critic, but I thought I would share a few of the high points from my perspective: (note, all these are John Maeda's thoughts, not mine)
- From Law 1: Reduce. The SHE method = SHRINK (make it smaller, thinner, humbler), HIDE (when everything that can be shrunk has been shrunk, you can use brute force to hide some things), EMBODY (give the thing some sense of value, quality, excellence). Shrinking an object lowers expectations, and the hiding of complexities allows the owner to manage the expectations himself. Consumers will only be drawn to the smaller, less functional product if they perceive it to be more valuable than a bigger version of the product with more features. Thus the perception of quality becomes a critical factor when making the choice of less over more.
- From Law 2: ORGANIZE. Organization makes a system of many appear fewer. Use the SLIP method = SORT (organize your stuff into rough groupings), LABEL (each group deserves a relevant name), INTEGRATE (where possible, merge groups), and PRIORITIZE (collect the highest priority items into a single set to ensure they get the best attention).
- The TAB key is good.
- From Law 3: TIME. Saving time is really more about the tradeoff between "How can you make the wait shorter?" and "How can you make the wait more tolerable?" The best example here John's note about, "I appreciate the free cookies and other samples in line at the Whole Foods store during the Thanksgiving season...."
- From Law 4: LEARN. First, John's teaching notes, "A gentle, inspired start is the best way to draw students or even a new customer, into the immersive process of learning." And a key point in this Law is, RELATE, TRANSLATE, SURPRISE! "Design starts by leveraging the human instinct to relate, followed by translating the relationship into a tangible object or service, and then ideally adding a little surprise at the end to make your audience's efforts worthwhile.
- FYI, despite my history of not staying inside the lines, I was able to successfully NOT write on page 57 (yes, read the book and you will see).
- From Law 6: CONTEXT. "There is an important tradeoff between completely lost in the unknown and completely found in the familiar....Your feeling of youth, state of health, and sense of adventure will dictate your preference for safety versus excitement to find the right balance where you can become "comfortably lost."
- From Law 8: TRUST. "The more a system knows about you, the less you have to think. Conversely, the more you know about the system, the greater control you can exact.
If you have the time, read this great book. If you don't you need to simplify and make some time.