Apple design process

Discussion in 'Apple' started by Michelle Steiner, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. This is from Business week:

    Apple's design process
    Posted by: Helen Walters on March 08

    Interesting presentation at SXSW from Michael Lopp, senior engineering
    manager at Apple, who tried to assess how Apple can Œget¹ design when so
    many other companies try and fail. After describing Apple¹s process of
    delivering consumers with a succession of presents (³really good ideas
    wrapped up in other really good ideas² ‹ in other words, great software
    in fabulous hardware in beautiful packaging), he asked the question many
    have asked in their time: ³How the f*ck do you do that?² (South by
    Southwest is at ease with its panelists speaking earthily.) Then he went
    into a few details:

    Pixel Perfect Mockups
    This, Lopp admitted, causes a huge amount of work and takes an enormous
    amount of time. But, he added, ³it removes all ambiguity.² That might
    add time up front, but it removes the need to correct mistakes later on.

    10 to 3 to 1
    Apple designers come up with 10 entirely different mock ups of any new
    feature. Not, Lopp said, "seven in order to make three look good", which
    seems to be a fairly standard practice elsewhere. They'll take ten, and
    give themselves room to design without restriction. Later they whittle
    that number to three, spend more months on those three and then finally
    end up with one strong decision.

    Paired Design Meetings
    This was really interesting. Every week, the teams have two meetings.
    One in which to brainstorm, to forget about constraints and think
    freely. As Lopp put it: to "go crazy". Then they also hold a production
    meeting, an entirely separate but equally regular meeting which is the
    other's antithesis. Here, the designers and engineers are required to
    nail everything down, to work out how this crazy idea might actually
    work. This process and organization continues throughout the development
    of any app, though of course the balance shifts as the app progresses.
    But keeping an option for creative thought even at a late stage is
    really smart.

    Pony Meeting
    This refers to a story Lopp told earlier in the session, in which he
    described the process of a senior manager outlining what they wanted
    from any new application: "I want WYSIWYG... I want it to support major
    browsers... I want it to reflect the spirit of the company." Or, as Lopp
    put it: "I want a pony!" He added: "Who doesn't? A pony is gorgeous!"
    The problem, he said, is that these people are describing what they
    think they want. And even if they're misguided, they, as the ones
    signing the checks, really cannot be ignored.

    The solution, he described, is to take the best ideas from the paired
    design meetings and present those to leadership, who might just decide
    that some of those ideas are, in fact, their longed-for ponies. In this
    way, the ponies morph into deliverables. And the C-suite, who are quite
    reasonable in wanting to know what designers are up to, and absolutely
    entitled to want to have a say in what's going on, are involved and
    included. And that helps to ensure that there are no nasty mistakes down
    the line.
    Michelle Steiner, Mar 13, 2008
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  2. Michelle Steiner

    The New guy Guest

    Great article. Thanks for posting.
    The New guy, Mar 13, 2008
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  3. And *I* really need to learn about reading my response carefully
    before posting it![/QUOTE]

    No, you really need to learning about reading it.
    Michelle Steiner, Mar 13, 2008
  4. Michelle Steiner

    Király Guest

    And you need to learning about posting in the proper newsgroup. Please
    keep this kind of fluff in comp.sys.mac.misc or comp.sys.mac.advocacy
    and not in this group.
    Király, Mar 13, 2008
  5. Chill.
    Michelle Steiner, Mar 13, 2008
  6. Michelle Steiner

    The New guy Guest in hardware has the same principles as design in
    software. It takes persistence and patience along with gobs of
    creativity. What that article shows is that Apple tries many different
    designs on purpose to broaden the horizon. These principles are very
    sound in whatever field you're in. Good lessons learned there. Great
    article. Surprising they would actually talk about it. Now let's see
    if they can use those same parameters and come up with a machine between
    a Mini and Mac Pro!
    The New guy, Mar 13, 2008
  7. It's about how Apple designs features for its software, including the
    Mac OS. Questions have bee raised here about Apple's design process and
    why features have been included or excluded, so I thought that this
    would provide an insight.
    Michelle Steiner, Mar 14, 2008
  8. Michelle Steiner

    JF Mezei Guest

    I suspect the above article applied more to hardware than software.

    Having move from 8.6 to 10.4, there are many many "features" in OS-X
    which I feel were implemented for the wrong reason (aka: being about to
    brtag about transparency in menus to create a "WOW" factor at MacWorld,
    even though that feature is totally counterproductive.

    The marketing folks have undoubtetly overruled the "usability" folks a
    number of times and forced implementation of those "go crazy" ideas.

    I think one motivation for the above is the one-up-manship between Apple
    and Microsoft with both trying to add fancy "wow" features to appear to
    be better than the other.

    But when you look at products like ipod, Apple was truly free to design
    a great product without the need to add useless fluff that detracts from
    JF Mezei, Mar 14, 2008
  9. I suspect the above article applied more to hardware than software.[/QUOTE]

    Nope. To both equally.
    I suspect that that happens less often with Apple than with other
    Michelle Steiner, Mar 14, 2008
  10. Michelle Steiner

    billy Guest

    The dock itself being the classic example.

    Plus, having to hack one's way to happiness because Apple thoughtlessly
    left out easily (for anyone having the source code..) provided means to
    achive a practical working environment just plain sucks.
    Speaking of which, Apple is run by a full-blown lunatic.

    Billy Y..
    billy, Mar 14, 2008
  11. A lunatic who brought the company from near extinction to being a
    financial success in less than a decade. I'm sure that many other
    companies wish they had such a lunatic running themselves.
    Michelle Steiner, Mar 14, 2008
  12. Michelle Steiner

    JF Mezei Guest

    Remember that OS-X came from Next. Jobs was involved in both. But Apple
    wasn't involved in design of Next.

    The concept of the Dock is similar to the Motif/CDE desktop with some
    area of screen dedicated to some panel with your apps. It is quite
    different from the much more productive (but less "marketing appeal") of
    the original apple menu.

    Option-TAB to switch applications is similar in concept to the alt-TAB
    on X-windows.

    I started off with the "hide the dock", but it got so annoying whenever
    the cursor got anywhere near the left of the screen (popping up the
    dock) that I now leave the dock permanently open, which reduces
    available screen space. But it is less annoying.
    JF Mezei, Mar 14, 2008
  13. Michelle Steiner

    Warren Oates Guest

    Jeepers, the Grinch who stole Kwanza.
    Warren Oates, Mar 14, 2008
  14. Michelle Steiner

    Warren Oates Guest

    What about posts about God (or the lack thereof) and that Obama fella
    (he said delicately, to spare the pc feelings of the righteous). Hey, if
    I were a yank, I'd be voting for Obama.
    Warren Oates, Mar 14, 2008
  15. At least it's Mac related, unlike your post.
    Steven Fisher, Mar 14, 2008
  16. Michelle Steiner

    Davoud Guest

    Dave Balderstone:
    Perhaps you see a contradiction in Steve Jobs' occasional display of
    genius in managing Apple and his being a raving lunatic. I see no such

    "Yet to the horror of the tiny circle of intimates in whom he'd
    confided, Jobs was considering not having the surgery at all. A
    Buddhist and vegetarian, the Apple CEO was skeptical of mainstream
    medicine. Jobs decided to employ alternative methods to treat his
    pancreatic cancer, hoping to avoid the operation through a special diet
    - a course of action that hasn't been disclosed until now. For nine
    months Jobs pursued this approach...." -- Fortune, Mar 5, 2008

    That, sir, is lunacy writ large.
    Worse than lunacy, actually. Does Jobs know what role vegetarianism
    played in the elimination of smallpox? Polio? Goiter? None. Zero. Zip.
    Mainstream medicine did the trick.
    The short-term survival prospects for pancreatic-cancer patients are
    very poor. Jobs survived on luck -- a rare form of the disease.


    "Today he had a wide range of observations on the industry, including
    the Amazon Kindle book reader, which he said would go nowhere largely
    because Americans have stopped reading.

    ³It doesn¹t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that
    people don¹t read anymore,² he said. ³Forty percent of the people in
    the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is
    flawed at the top because people don¹t read anymore.² -- New York
    Times, January 15, 2008 <>

    That sir, that is lunacy writ large.
    I wonder if Jobs is secretly kicking himself for not having been first
    with one of these. Kindle has been back-ordered since practically the
    day it hit the market. How much better would it be if Apple had
    designed it? Digital book readers are going to be "huge," to snatch a
    word from our favorite CEO. But Apple can't cash in on that while Jobs
    is at the helm unless Jobs is prepared to eat crow. As noted above, he
    is a vegetarian.

    Davoud, Mar 14, 2008
  17. Michelle Steiner

    Wes Groleau Guest

    Posts about the second line of the
    third paragraph of the Science Creed?

    (The "existence clause")
    Wes Groleau, Mar 14, 2008
  18. Michelle Steiner

    AES Guest

    Have to say: a very good post.
    AES, Mar 14, 2008
  19. He happens to be right about that statistic.
    The big question is in how long that situation will last.
    Michelle Steiner, Mar 14, 2008
  20. Well, then you're saying it's not obvious whether the article is more
    at home in .system or .apps, so all the more reason to go to .misc.

    It is probably equally at home in .system and in .apps, but I don't
    subscribe to .apps, so I didn't post it there. I don't subscribe to
    ..misc either.
    Michelle Steiner, Mar 14, 2008
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