The laws of simplicity

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Thought Leadership  |  Marketing

One of the best parts of being on the speaking circuit is the opportunity to meet and chat with fascinating people prior to a gig. Sometimes there is a "green room" where speakers congregate, but more often it's just an empty stage before the audience arrives.


Last week I met John Maeda who was on just prior to me at a gig at the Providence Chamber of Commerce. John is a true Renaissance Man. He invented the screen saver; he's an artist, a graphic designer, an author, and a computer programmer. John is the current Associate Director of Research at MIT Media Lab and is the incoming president of the Rhode Island School of Design, a position he assumes in June.

We chatted for a while about such things as teenage daughters, the benefits of an Apple computer for delivering presentations, the importance of water availability while speaking, and flying toasters.

His speech last week was his first public session in RI after the announcement of his new job and the venue was packed and included the governor of Rhode Island. John is an amazing speaker. You can see a great video of him in action at the TED conference here. I learned some things about simplicity of speaking style that I'll be applying to my own presentations.

Here are a few things John said that I really like: "Humans want 'more' (food, storage, stuff). So 'more' is an important marketing concept. But while humans want more, design is about less." And he then related that with this fascinating example: "Yahoo design is about more. Google design is about less."


I ordered John's book The Laws of Simplicity on Amazon even before his speech was done. It is a short book and I read it in one sitting this weekend.

You can check out all of the ten Laws of Simplicity here. My favorite is Law ten: "Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful."

While John writes about simplicity as it relates to design, I am convinced that the same things apply to marketing and PR. For example, marketers love gobbledygook. But simplicity is what sells.