If you’re in Marketing, and you don’t know who Jony Ive is, you need to be excused from your job, so you can catch up with the 21st century. If you’re a designer and you don’t know who Jony Ive is, I’m giving you a very confused look right now. If you’ve ever held an iPhone, you have experienced Jony Ive.
This is a revolutionary time in human history. Designers in every aspect of life are questioning the way we interact with our world in each of our daily tasks, and offering more natural options. New product offerings in wearable tech are probably the most obvious manifestations of an increased desire to incorporate technology into our bodies. For now, we wear it, as an exoskeleton. We are also redesigning our living and working spaces, to include more ergonomic options, such as standing desks. Each of us is redesigning our lives.
So, why am I focused on Jony Ive? Because many of you admire Steve Jobs for his daring genius. Steve Jobs admired Jony Ive. He has become an icon for those of us who celebrate simplicity, and a target of jokes for those who wish they could do simplicity.
Since this is clearly an article about how much I enjoy Apple products, I’ll mention another design icon: Angela Ahrendts. People can buy Apple products on-line. So, why do they bother making the trip to Apple Stores? Because they are worth visiting. Apple Stores are located in the best parts of town, in the best cities in the world. They are staffed with passionate team members who excel at customer service. Since Angela became Senior Vice President of Apple Retail, she has brought even more beauty and simplicity to existing and new locations around the world.
Did you know there is only one place on Earth where you can buy official Apple logo wear? It is the employee store in Cupertino, at One Infinite Loop. Every time I travel abroad, I go there and buy something truly special for my friends. Why? Because even though Apple products are available worldwide, the official fan gear can only be found in person, at the “Mothership”. For many years, the Apple employee store was not unlike other employee stores: big and full of a random assortment of colors and sizes, with the company logo on them. Angela has changed that. The employee store at One Infinite Loop still has the coveted logo wear, but it now finally looks like an Apple Store.
Consistency across locations, languages, and staff training is what has made Apple a company worth studying when it comes to design and user experience, especially in the retail sector.
So far, I’ve only mentioned external ways to access Apple products. But what about the internal and intimate experience of using our favorite tools? You guessed it, I have an iPhone and I love it. It would take me a long time to list my favorite features, so I’ll just mention one.
My favorite iPhone feature is within the Music app. When I shuffle songs, and I hear one that struck a special chord at that moment, I want to hear it again. Usually, I reach for my phone when the song has already ended, and the next one has started. When I hit replay, I don’t hear the song that had just started, I hear the song I wanted to hear again. Someone at Apple Music designed that feature taking the user experience into account, calculating the time it would take for someone to hit replay after the desired song ended.
Yet, not all user experience can be anticipated and designed. Here is a recent example of how an image can be intended to mean one thing, but be used in a different way. The debate is ongoing, so please join in.
User Experience is human, which means it will get messy quickly. Therefore, strive to keep your design simple. Simple is beautiful.
Photo credit: Author owned / Vancouver Film School