I’m reading Enchantment, by Guy Kawasaki. I’ve been chipping away at it for longer than I care to admit, but I’m reading it deliberately. There’s a lot of good stuff that requires more than a skim to appreciate and apply.
Tonight, I read a section in which Guy uses Garr Reynolds‘s list of ten Japanese principals to apply to design. One of these that especially struck me is kanso.
Kanso. Eliminating clutter and expressing things in plain and simple ways.
I sometimes think that my tendency to express things in boiled down terms is a weakness, that I can’t hold a complex thought in my head long enough to maintain it in its unabridged form. Instead, I’m reminded that to employ kanso is to understand a complex idea well enough to express it simply. That’s no insignificant tool.
This makes me think of times when clients come in the door and say things like, “What I want is really simple; I just want to push one button and have it do X.” Well, “X” is complicated. Boiling X down to one button is complicated-squared. But if we’re able to do that, then we’re magicians.
And we’ve applied kanso; we’ve taken something complicated and made it simple.
The iPhone has two buttons, if you don’t count the volume buttons. It only needs two buttons because a lot of work went into ensuring that it could only need two buttons.