Tesler's Law

Synonyms: the law of conservation of complexity

Tesler’s Law, also known as The law of conservation of complexity, states that for any system there is a certain level of complexity that cannot be reduced. According to the law, each application has a certain degree of complexity that either the developer or the user has to deal with.


Designed by Romain Briaux



Larry Tesler is a computer scientist who specializes in human-computer interaction. He has worked for companies such as Xerox PARC, Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo. Larry Tesler described the law in the mid-1980s. He argued that complexity does not disappear, but moves from one area to another. When you simplify the system for the user, you will inevitably transfer this complexity to the developers.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Remove the main burden on users at the stage of development and design of the system.
  2. Don't oversimplify. It is impossible to make a product without a single complexity. But by simplifying the system, you make it more difficult to work on it. If you save 5% of the complexity of the application for the user, but add 50% of the complexity for its development, is it worth it?
  3. Balance the difficulty. Carefully decide how much to transfer complexity from users to developers and vice versa.
  4. Before you simplify the processes, analyze whether such a function is required at all.


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