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Steve Jobs Quotes: Design
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. The iMac is not just the color or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element plays together.
You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology — not the other way around.
That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
Look at the design of a lot of consumer products — they’re really complicated surfaces. We tried to make something much more holistic and simple. When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there. We believe that customers are smart, and want objects which are well thought through.
The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious.
When I was growing up, a guy across the street had a Volkswagen Bug. He really wanted to make it into a Porsche. He spent all his spare money and time accessorizing this VW, making it look and sound loud. By the time he was done, he did not have a Porsche. He had a loud, ugly VW.
It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them… That doesn’t mean we don’t listen to customers, but it’s hard for them to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.
You know how you see a show car, and it’s really cool, and then four years later you see the production car, and it sucks? And you go, “What happened? They had it! They had it in the palm of their hands! They grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory!” What happened was, the designers came up with this really great idea. Then they take it to the engineers, and the engineers go, “Nah, we can’t do that. That’s impossible.” And so it gets a lot worse. Then they take it to the manufacturing people, and they go, “We can’t build that!” And it gets a lot worse.
A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.
When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back.
We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them. [OS X’s “Aqua” interface]
For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. The iMac is not just the color or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element plays together. On our latest iMac, I was adamant that we get rid of the fan, because it is much more pleasant to work on a computer that doesn’t drone all the time. That was not just ‘Steve’s decision’ to pull out the fan; it required an enormous engineering effort to figure out how to manage power better and do a better job of thermal conduction through the machine. That is the furthest thing from veneer. It was at the core of the product the day we started.
The desktop metaphor was invented because one, you were a stand-alone device, and two, you had to manage your own storage. That’s a very big thing in a desktop world. And that may go away. You may not have to manage your own storage. You may not store much before too long.
You just make the best product you can, and you don’t put it out until you feel it’s right. But no matter what you think intellectually, your heart is beating pretty fast right before people see what you’ve produced.