I’ve recently been re-reading “Inside Steve’s Brain” which I had previously blogged about with great affection and enthusiasm–every designer and (more importantly) product manager, director, and executive should absorb its valuable lessons! Here are a few particular noteworthy passages:
“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.”– S Jobs
** IMHO, that part about truly deeply madly understanding something is vital to ensuring that a designer is NOT treated as a lipstick artist but instead instrumental to defining and shaping the quality of experience, and must be respected as such from the beginning, not thrown in at the end of a clean-up phase prior to release.
“We have assembled a heavenly design team…By keeping the core team small and investing significantly in tools and process we can work with a level of collaboration that seems particularly rare. In fact, the memory of how we work will endure beyond the products of our work.“– J Ive
** I love this part about the shared social/cultural/behavioral memory of the organization outlasting the artifacts of the process and teamwork. Very tantalizing concept that few managers really get in large company environments, design-based or otherwise.
On the central task of a designer, Ive says the task is to
“solve incredibly complex problems and make their resolution appear inevitable and incredibly simple, so you have no sense how difficult this thing was.” Conversely, the designer fails if the design is too obvious, complicated, creating more problems, and calling attention to itself and distracting from the fluidity of the user’s experience/activity…
And on prototyping’s essential value to the design process, Ive continues:
“We make a lot of models and prototypes, and we go back and iterate. We strongly believe in prototyping and making things so you can pick them up and touch them. We make lots and lots of prototypes: the number solutions we make to get one solution is quite embarrassing, but it’s a healthy part of what we do.”