1 of 365 (2014): The 80/20 Principle

1 of 365 - the 80 - 20 Principle by John LeMasney via lemasney.com

1 of 365 – the 80 – 20 Principle by John LeMasney via lemasney.com

Welcome, all, to the 2014 edition of 365 sketches. This is a simple offering for the first sketch, but gives some idea of what I intend to talk about. In this series, I intend to learn more about design principles, because in the past I focused mostly on method and technique. I hope that this series teaches me as much about design ideology as past series have taught me about design method. It is perhaps evidence of “a cart before the horse” which I am trying to remedy.

The 80/20 Principle is one in which a well-working system of any kind (book, technology, structure, organization) has distributed value and power, where the 20 percent represents the most important, the most valuable, and the most protected, and the rest supports it. We are experiencing political difficulty in this country at the moment, according to this theory, because the 20 percent has been reduced too far. The same is true in design, books, movies, or other organizations of content: If there is too little to gain from participation in the whole, e.g., if only a small percentage holds the entire value, then the entire structure falls apart, and holds no value at all. The best design, according to the theory, balances value and support at a ratio near to, but not necessarily equal to, 80/20.


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