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The MAYA Principle - Deliver the Future, Gradually

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What is the point of good design? To create good experiences. Good design makes the objects, places, and interfaces we use every day pleasurable to interact with. It allows people to do the things they want or need to do, in ways that are (at least) painless, and (at best) delightful.

Good design also does something else: it raises the bar for what people expect from their experiences, advancing the public high-water mark for “best user experience.” As the creator of a web or mobile application, yanking that bar upwards is your goal. But it’s important to keep in mind a key fact: People are resistant to change. You can only raise the bar as high as your audience will let you; deliver an experience that’s too far from what they’re comfortable with, and they’ll walk away.

Mid-century industrial design pioneer Raymond Loewy (1893-1986) summed up this principle in the aphorism “Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable,” or MAYA. Embedded in this maxim is the truth that designers and innovators must pave the way toward the future, but in gradual steps—delivering experiences that break new ground, but still contain enough of the familiar to be “acceptable” to the people for whom they’re designed.

Published in: Design

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