12 Reasons Why The Apple Design Process is Nothing Special
You would probably have caught wind of Sir Jony Ive’s rare interview with the London Evening Standard by now. I was not planning to blog about this as I figured that this would just become a pointless re-post. Except something dawned on me as I read the post. My suspicions that Apple’s Design Process is nothing special was confirmed!
While I would encourage you to read the entire interview (which is pretty cool), please let me summarize what Jony shared:
1) The Design Process at Apple is very much about “designing and prototyping and making. When you separate those…the final result suffers.”
2) Designing something new leaves you with little reference, this required focus.
3) Designers need to be “…to be light on your feet, inquisitive and interested in being wrong.”
4) Design’s goal is “…to design and make better products. If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it.”
5) Most of Apple’s competitors are only interested in doing something different or new, not necessary better. For Design to make something better, there needs to be discipline, and a sincere and genuine dedication to do so. “Committees just don’t work, and it’s not about price, schedule or a bizarre marketing goal to appear different – they are corporate goals with scant regard for people who use the product.”
6) When an opportunity arises, designers need to ask the “stupid” questions. “…What if we do this, combine it with that, would that be useful? This creates opportunities that could replace entire categories of device, rather than tactically responding to an individual problem.”
7) Not surprising, here is Jony on focus groups: “We don’t do focus groups – that is the job of the designer. It’s unfair to ask people who don’t have a sense of the opportunities of tomorrow from the context of today to design.”
8) The design team works in a collaborative environment with people from different disciplines and different “areas of expertise.”
9) When you are focused on a design problem, you need drive, confidence, and experience to push on.
10) Constant innovation is difficult, and you will never know it is done until you get there.
11) Sometimes an innovation can come from “the smallest shift” that “suddenly transforms the object, without any contrivance.”
12) Consumer are not stupid, they are incredibly discerning, and can “…sense where has been great care in the design, and when there is cynicism and greed.” Consumers are aware of the values of the people who made the product.
Most of you who have been around the block a few times would probably be able to check off 95% of the ways of working highlighted above. The reality is that Apple’s Design process is no different from what the rest of the world uses.
Then why is Apple so successful?
It’s all about the people. This is the key reason why good design fails in any organization.
People who care, people with discipline, people with passion, people that advocate and value design, people who want to do the best, people who can work together, and people who want to make a difference. Sadly the majority of organizations are short of such people, most of which are probably working at Apple.