5 Rules for Designing Like Apple

Ryan wrote this on January 14, 2013 in . It has 119 reactions

We bet there was a time when a lot of us refused to buy an Apple product. A time when we were steadfast in our commitment to PCs. Too expensive, some of us probably said. But slowly we started making the transition. It may have started with an iPhone. Maybe the earliest Macbooks. Soon, we were hooked.

Although, some of us probably still cling to PCs, becoming computer ambidextrous. All kidding aside, however, we constantly hear that Apple products are beautiful, simple and functional. Which is why many of us became converts.

A lot of us also want to design like Apple. But what does it take? What is the design ethos involved? To answer that might take volumes and volumes of text. However, the good folks over at One Minute MBA have managed to distill it to five rules in an excellent short. Take a look at the video below:

We were really impressed with the video and saw a lot of similarities with how we approach design. Let's break down the five rules.

  1. High-quality design is encompassing. Recently, Martin Weigel wrote that it takes just as long to design a crappy product as it does a high-quality one. So you might as well spend that time building a product that is well-designed throughout. It doesn't behoove you or your customers to sell yourself short.
  2. Employees must understand the product. The best products are the ones that solve a particular problem. Even better are the ones that come about because it helps you and your employees solve a problem. The products in our own suite came about to help solve our problems. We use them in our daily interactions. For instance, we use Notable often to give each other quick bits of feedback.
  3. Good designers are motivated by failure and embrace change. We must fail and fail fast in order to achieve wins. Iteration is a key part of that. Doing so, we learn what works and doesn't work more quickly. Which, in turn, helps us make solid design decisions.
  4. Our products are tools. Design shouldn't get in the way. A product should be simple and intuitive to use even if it is more complex under the hood. Another thing to consider is that customers may not need or want every feature of a product, which is why we have to layer complexity through pricing tiers.
  5. Extensions of ourselves. Devices are steadily becoming extensions of ourselves. So are online products. We rely more and more on products to manage our lives. They are a part of us and we should design with that in mind.

These five rules are much more difficult when it comes to practice, which One Minute MBA also acknowledges.

It's not enough to just design like Apple. Simply copying them won't work. You have to have a culture that embraces some or all of these elements. In the end, it's not about being like Apple but being the best company you can be and making the best product you can.


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