Law 5: Differences

Simplicity and complexity need each other.

> Excerpted from Pages 45-46 of my book, The Laws of Simplicity

 

Nobody wants to eat only dessert. Even a child that is allowed to eat ice cream three meals a day will eventually tire his sweet tooth. By the same token, nobody wants to have only simplicity. Without the counterpoint of complexity, we could not recognize simplicity when we see it. Our eyes and senses thrive, and sometimes recoil, whenever we experience differences.
     Acknowledging contrast helps to identify qualities that we desire–which are often subject to change. I don’t personally prefer the color pink, but I do like it as a dash of brightness in a drab sea of olive green. The pink appears bold and vibrant as compared with its dark and muted surroundings. We know how to appreciate something better when we can compare it to something else.
     Simplicity and complexity need each other. The more complexity there is in the market, the more that something simpler stands out. And because technology will only continue to grow in complexity, there is a clear economic benefit to adopting a strategy of simplicity that will help set your product apart. That said, establishing a feeling of simplicity in design requires making complexity consciously available in some explicit form. This relationship can be manifest in either the same object or experience, or in contrast with other offerings in the same category—ike the simplicity of the iPod in comparison to its more complex competitors in the MP3 player market.