Simplicity is the differentiator

A couple of great quotes from a NYT Magazine article on the iPod that has been heavily linked already.

Jonathan Ive on the genesis of the iPod:

”Steve” — that would be Steve Jobs — ”made some very interesting observations very early on about how this was about navigating content,” Ive says. ”It was about being very focused and not trying to do too much with the device — which would have been its complication and, therefore, its demise. The enabling features aren’t obvious and evident, because the key was getting rid of stuff.”

Later he said: ”What’s interesting is that out of that simplicity, and almost that unashamed sense of simplicity, and expressing it, came a very different product. But difference wasn’t the goal. It’s actually very easy to create a different thing. What was exciting is starting to realize that its difference was really a consequence of this quest to make it a very simple thing.”

“Trying to not to do too much with the device” – coming back to scenario and persona-driven design again. If in the design process one tries to take the scenarios as they stand and create something that supports every need, every moment in the scenario or persona; then the simplicity Ive describes will be lost. Identifying the one key need or moment and honing the design without compromise is key. Victor’s ‘value-complexity’ matrix is a tool i’ve always liked – but I think there’s more intuition involved in a designer or team knowing what the one, focal moment or need is. I would love to be corrected and pointed to tools or processes that can assist…

Steve Jobs on design:

“‘Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like,” says Steve Jobs, Apple’s C.E.O. ”People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”


» New York Times: The Guts of a New Machine By ROB WALKER [Reg. Reqd]

  1. righton said:

    Unfortunately, I’ve had a designer tell me “if it looks cool, do it.”

    There are lots of designers who still think it’s about the look. Lots.

  2. That person wasn’t a designer, they were a stylist. Unfortunately, stylists masquerade as designers all too often.

  3. righton said:

    Or “artists” who think they can use the product or design route as avenues of “self-expression”. I don’t really have much patience or sympathy for that selfishness. Or dishonesty.

  4. Ross said:

    There are times in our life we have Road to Damascus experiences. Reading this was one of those for me.

    Thanks for posting this Matt.

  5. Pingback: Headshift

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