Apple is notorious for creating great products with whimsically awesome interface design—ones that have certainly turned this old PC fanatic into an Apple fanboy. More than the finesse of the physical products or the sparkling chrome, it's refined and iterated design decisions that create great experiences for consumers.
As I was taking another mouthwatering look at the new unibody laptops, I was reminded of just how important those design decisions can be for how things work. The new unibody MacBook Pros come with fresh hotness all around, and the one design decision we all have been applauding at the ZURB office is the new laptop lids.
Push to Open is So Last Year
One of the biggest gripes we all have about the previous generation of MacBook Pros—the ones we use here—has been the lid latch. Here's a look at the culprit:
We all know it, but let's get this off all our chests—almost all laptop lid latches suck. There are those obnoxious sliders, tiny buttons, and clasping plastic contraptions that almost always break. Design decisions like these just make for bad experiences. You have to position your finger nail just right or you risk broken nails, pinched fingers, and frustrations abound. And when people are frustrated with their computers, bad things happen.
Aesthetics Don't Always Mean Great Interactions
The old MacBook Pro (MBP) lid latch was designed to compliment the general aesthetic of a great looking product. The short and wide design amplifies the perceived slimness of the machine, which is really cool, but not that functional. After continued use, the latch looses its "oomph," meaning you have to push harder, often with only a finger nail because your finger tip is too big.
When to comes down to it, the lid latch is just a bad experience for most users—even worse on some laptops, too! So where is the great interaction design? It's on the new unibody MBPs where Apple has rolled out an entirely new laptop latch.
Laptops Are Meant to be Opened
Apple has taken all the other great design decisions about the last generation of MBPs and made them that much better with this new unibody design. By far the one that stands out the most is the new lid latch.
And you know why it's so great? I'll tell you:
- First, there's no tiny button that requires a finger nail to open.
- Second, it maintains the magnetic clamp style from the last generation—and with just the right amount of magnetism.
- Third, the design affordance (the interaction we expect from just looking at the latch) is much greater—just lift.
- Fourth, it's just one motion. No push, then lift to open. Just open it.
- And finally, it's still effortless to open. You can lift the lid with one finger and not worry about the rest of the laptop lifting with it.
Design is How It Works
While maintaining the ease of use of the previous generation of laptops, Apple has managed to increase the design affordance and the durability of a single element to make a better experience for their consumers.
Remember: design isn't just how stuff looks. Design is how it works. Consumers rely on great design decisions to make products worth buying and using. Acknowledging that in your work (hardware, software, online, etc) will almost always take it from good to great for everyone involved.