StumbleUpon is a wonderful tool to discover great articles, especially ones that are interesting and informative. Just today, I stumbled (wink) onto this slightly older story about the design principles that were at the core of Apple’s products. Since Steve Jobs‘ death, there has been a mountain of text written about his works and style, a lot of which are insights derived from his biography by Walter Isaacson called Steve Jobs. This article draws a picture of what were the underlying principles that governed Apple’s product design and, in some places, why were they so adamant about form over function.
Calling it ‘Impute’, Isaacson says, the core team in Apple believed that presentation went above all else. In a memo called “The Apple Marketing Philosophy” written and published in the beginning days of Apple, it was clearly laid out that even if they produce the best software with great features, it will not be received properly if it was not presented in a polished and creative fashion. The memo says, that an innovative presentation will impute quality in the minds of its users and anyone who has unboxed an Apple product can attest to that. Apparently, in the early days of Apple, Steve Jobs used to visit Macy’s stores to look at kitchen appliances to understand sleek design. He even told the design team to buy a microwave to study it. As a result, the products are beautiful and artistic.
Whether it was the iPhone or the Mac, every Apple device has user interface unique to Apple. The simplicity and intuitiveness these software brought to the industry were first of their kind and are one of the reasons why Apple was able to build a loyal customer base who stuck with the company even during its worst years. Once you get used to such simple and natural way of computing, its hard to even try anything less. Using real life metaphors Apple was able to develop software that made operations seem natural and straight forward.
These are just a few of the principles listed in the fastcodesign article. Today, these principles seem common place in the age of Foursquare and Tumblr, but to realize them far ahead of time and make them integral to his company was probably one of the most significant contribution from Steve Jobs. Above many other things, this truly makes him a visionary.
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