According to industrial designer Raymond Loewy, who coined the MAYA (‘most advanced, however acceptable’) principle, the an essential to successful design is in balancing futurism with your users’ present.

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When Loewy applied this come his work, he produced some the the most iconic draft of modern-day culture, including the S1 steam locomotive (pictured above), the1950s re-design that the Coca-Cola glass bottle, the 1946 Lincoln Continental, Le Creuset coquelle, the SPAR logo and also many more.


This principle may be old however, the theory behind the is quiet relevant. Loewy believed our tastes room not prepared for logical remedies if the design is too advanced and unfamiliar.

Familiarity is a large deal. Think of the most well-known songs girlfriend know, cool apps that you use and websites friend love. Why carry out you choose them? Songs, for instance, are thought to call for four fundamental traits to make them catchy, as discovered by musicologists in ~ the college of London. Adults are so conditioned right into accepting and being comfortable v the norm, that they will seldom accept a brand-new design equipment if it’s too advanced.

Loewy explained how “there seems to be because that each separation, personal, instance product a crucial area in ~ which the consumer’s desire because that novelty get what i might contact the shock-zone. At the point, the urge to buy reaches a plateau, and also sometimes evolves into a resistance to buying.” (Loewy, R. 1951. Never ever Leave Well enough Alone. 227).

This concept goes some way to explaining why ideas, products and designs have both failed and also succeeded. Google Glass is a well-known instance of architecture failure due, in part, to it failing come adhere to Loewy’s MAYA principle.


Ignore the MAYA rule at her peril

From a website optimisation or human-centred design approach, the MAYA rule is still relevant almost 60 years on. Think about all the times the websites and web pages have been designed to look and also feel much more modern, yet perform badly.

In 2014, M&S famously introduced a redesign and build of its website. It failed miserably, and also the new site was blamed because that the subsequent8% drop in sales and also loss that shares.


The core difficulty with the M&S site, to be its mix of use issues and also a absence of consideration for its client base.

For its faithful customers who had actually grown accustomed come the old website, such a dramatic design adjust meant that they had actually to relearn how to navigate and use the brand-new site. Their formerly stored details were likewise now invalid, because M&S’s new site had actually started indigenous scratch, abandoning its 6 million user database during the transition, resulting in them to have to re-register. Annoying. Very, really annoying.

Those who do it right

Larger service providers such together Amazon or Shop direct are always updating your websites, however in a much more controlled approach. Usability experimentation helps them come identify issues with their website, and also areas your audience is struggling with.


Once lock have established a problem, they work to solve it, which can result in an entire website redesign or just a tiny adjustment to a page using A/B experimentation to find which systems works ideal for your customer base.

By do adjustments and keeping in mind your audience, they have the right to constantly test and challenge designs but, ultimately, the audience will always favour the style that is ‘most acceptable’.

Keeping to the MAYA principle, the designs require to deliver an endure that is both aesthetic and also modern, but comfortable and usable because that the individual. Website designs need to be the perfect mix of modernisation and also familiarity to have mass appeal.

How perform you make things ‘acceptable’?

So, exactly how do we make things ‘acceptable’? Is it a instance of being an ext sympathetic in the style process? based upon what we know, we must put points in the context of what people already accept. If you can identify the right way an organisation goes around problem-solving, climate you deserve to use the context to structure design.

A website have the right to be really task-oriented. We all go online throughout numerous website to conduct the same actions for various organisations and businesses – do a purchase, inquiry information, gain in contact, command research.

It is necessary within the architecture that this functionality is familiar and also easy to use, to avoid frustrating your users; you won’t gain a 2nd chance to admire them. Innovation and also design must be presented gradually, and also thoroughly experiment to ensure new users have the right to learn to usage the site quickly so the they come back to usage it again.

Marketplace websites together as no on the High Street or eBay are excellent examples of gaining the right balance the innovation and acceptance. These sites regularly sell unfamiliar products and brands, so users typically spend an ext time researching and have much less confidence in the products. To counteract this, the sites ensure the user constantly feels in control by supplying multiple ways to browse and view the products. Then they instill confidence v social proofing techniques.


Ultimately. The key to the success of this sites is that they know their audiences and also behaviours. The crucial to Loewy’s theory is to always keep the audience in mind; challenge design to do it contemporary and exciting, whilst keeping it comfortable and also familiar sufficient that they accept it.

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So, if you’re embarking on website improvements, constantly include your individuals as beforehand as feasible within the architecture stage, and consistently throughout the project to certain you’re hitting the mark.

Contact our CRO team now to find out exactly how we can apply the MAYA principle to your site