Apple’s Design Process

Came across this really interesting article in Business Week about Apple’s Design Process. It provides a wonderful insight into how Apple consistently create products that delight consumers. What strikes me though is that the process is, on the face of it, very simple in terms of it’s key element – there’s an important lesson there – perhaps their secret is their simplicity?  I just want to touch on three of the stages or activities described in the article:

Pixel Perfect Mockups

From my own experience, I know that producing High Fidelity wire frames or mockups can be extremely time consuming and very costly as an up-front design activity. Which is why many organisation’s don’t do this. Yet it’s hard to argue against the fact that they do remove all ambiguity and do lessen the need to correct mistakes later. We are beginning to realise the value of this at Talis, we have embarked on a couple of projects where we take this approach (although not as far as pixel perfect) up front and so far it has proven invaluable.

10 to 3 to 1

I thought this was really interesting, the notion that the develop ten entirely different mock ups of any new feature – and it really is ten different mockups, not "seven in order to make three look good" if they actually do that then that’s a remarkable. They take ten ideas, whittle those down to three which they then spend time refining until they end up with just one strong design.

Paired Design Meetings

I’m definitely in favour of this – every week the teams have two meetings. In the first meeting they do nothing but brainstorm ideas and disregard any constraints so they can think completely freely – and go crazy! Subsequently they hold a second meeting in which designers and engineers are required to nail everything down in order to figure out how each crazy idea would actually work.

These kinds of activities are incredibly useful. It’s important not to stifle or constrain the creative process which is why we have these kinds of brainstorming sessions – where nothing is considered a bad idea, no matter how ludicrous. Our development group at Talis has used techniques such as these to come up with new an innovative ideas that probably would not have come to fruition unless participants where given the freedom to go crazy (For the record Tom Heath’s ideas are generally the craziest ). The trick though is having the talent and ingenuity to take a crazy idea and turn it into something real .. and believe me it feels great when you do.


… if you haven’t experimented with techniques such as these then I suggest you give them a try.