MAYA: Most Advanced Yet Acceptable

Are you familiar with the MAYA principle? It was created by the industrial designer Raymond Loewy, who was responsible for the Coca Cola bottle, and logos for the US Postal Service, Greyhound Bus, and many others. Loewy’s philosophy was to design for the future, but to introduce it incrementally. While pushing for advancement, he sought a balance between the novel and the familiar, looking for just the right mix so that his ideas would be seen as forward-looking, but not alienating.

In his words:
“The adult public’s taste is not necessarily ready to accept the logical solutions to their requirements if the solution implies too vast a departure from what they have been conditioned into accepting as the norm.”

I’m pretty sure I‘ve had this conversation about the AEC industry once or twice, and I’m guessing you may have, too.

The Interaction Design Foundation has prepared some helpful tips for applying the MAYA principle in your work. They include:

  • Advance your design gradually over time – Do not make a lot of major changes right away as you risk scaring off your users. Understand what context your users are familiar with and which features have to be changed. When in doubt you should distinguish between: Nice to have and need to have.
  • Include familiar patterns in the visual design – so users can orient themselves
  • A design should be self-explanatory – if you have to explain it and need to include a manual or elaborate “help” features, your product is overly advanced or too complex to use.

Do you agree, or disagree? Have you tried this approach, and if so, in what context? Have you found it to be useful, or is there a better way? Please join us at DTS 2017 and share!

Photo credit: Author/Copyright holder: Raymond Loewy

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