• Akshayta

How we judge a book by its cover

An article published by fastcodesign.com on the purpose of user interface (the technology with which a user interacts with a device) made me question my entire existence as a designer. Why? Because it critiqued the godfather of modern design – Apple. Titled “How Apple is giving design a bad name” – it talks about how in a quest to offer the cleanest visual appearance, Apple has forgotten the fundamental purpose of design – to make the user’s life simpler. From being a leader in designing easy-to-use & easy-to-understand products, Apple’s strategy now focuses more on visual appeal, reinforcing the idea that design is only about making things pretty. Confused? Let me make things simpler. Suppose you are out to buy a pair of scissors. What are the key features that you might look for? Number one – Size and sharpness of the blade depending on usage Number two – How easily can you hold the pair of scissors to make a clean cut. Number three – Probably the visual appeal and lastly, if it really makes a difference – the price. Under no circumstances would you wish to own a pair of fancy looking scissors that doesn’t cut properly and has a confusing operating mechanism. Apple’s products, however, engender an opposite response. Previous models of Apple lacked the very simple and very necessary "back button" causing the user the return to the home screen and start navigating all over again just because he clicked the wrong button. The home button was then susceptible to damage making it defunct sooner than expected. Luckily enough, Apple fixed this issue in its future devices but failed to learn from its mistakes. Eliminating the headphone jack in an attempt to make the phone sleeker is a classic example of design gone wrong. The latest Macbook variant has discarded the USB port – a necessity for all laptop users who are now forced to find cumbersome alternatives or buy freakishly expensive accessories to cope with the loss. Still, fanaticism towards Apple products fails to die, the reason being their smooth interface. While the brand has retained most of its pioneered technology, it’s unfortunate to see the tech giant ignore these seemingly small yet fairly evident design flaws. A popular belief system states that design is only about making things look good. But that is not the case. Design exists to solve problems. It exists to make life simpler. And it is time we understood that a product’s design has failed if it makes you feel incompetent as a user. It was once said that good design is evident but great design is transparent. How? Great design is when you are out shopping for clothes and don’t have to scout through the tag to know the size or price of the garment – it should be visible at one go. Great design is when your phone screen adjusts its clarity according the brightness of your surroundings to make readability easier – you shouldn’t have to squint or move to another spot. And lastly, great design is when you are able to use a product to efficiently complete your task without being inconvenienced in any way. Fancy brand names and appearances are only ancillary. Good design is just as functional as it is aesthetic. Companies invest millions in trying to perfect user experience because you are in complete control of whether their product lives or dies. It is time to understand that power and make valuable use of it.

The above post was inspired by an article published by fastcodesign.com.

While this is only a snippet of the real issue, you can find the entire piece at – http://www.fastcodesign.com/3053406/how-apple-is-giving-design-a-bad-name