By Jeff Kline

Blog

Steve Jobs, And The Design Philosophy That Changed The World

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Revolutionary web design requires a certain state of mind.

As many of my loyal readers know, I am very intrigued by Steve Jobs and the way he completely reinvented Apple and the concept of infusing great design into technology products. But, as it turns out, he didn’t do it alone.

THE DREAM TEAM

In the late nineties, after Apple’s close call with bankruptcy, the company’s lead industrial designer Jony Ive was on the verge of quitting. As a well-educated designer, he was enthralled by the philosophy of design – and extremely frustrated with the company’s focus on “profit maximization.”

When Jobs returned to the company in 1997, things changed. Jobs, with his intuition and natural eye for design, found a kindred spirit in Ive. 

Jobs and Ive combined their expertise to revitalize Apple and revolutionize the world of design.

“LESS IS BETTER”

 Jobs and Ive both shared the idea of simplicity in design – or, in the words of Braun’s Dieter Rams - that “less is better.” Applying a simplistic design to a technical product makes the user feel more confident about mastering and dominating that product.

But “simple” isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Jobs made it clear that “simple” doesn’t translate to “ignore all complexities.” Instead, he emphasized that simplicity required a deep understanding of a product’s complexities, as well as the ability to conquer them by coming up with sophisticated solutions. He also advocated that everything but the essentials be stripped away. This purist way of thinking resulted in the sleek simplicity of the iPods, iPhones and iPads we use today.

Jobs and Ive also believed the final design should be a reflection of the product’s soul – its purpose, how it functions, how it will be used. They were adamant that design should be dictated by how people will use the product, so that the resulting design provides users with an extraordinary and delightful experience.

Jobs’ and Ive’s philosophy toward design can also be applied to website design.

What if your website wasn’t a collection of code and pixels, but actually a living, breathing being? Looking at your website through the eyes of Steve Jobs and Jony Ive, and gazing deep into its soul, gives you the right perspective and motivation needed to create a true masterpiece.

Let’s give it a try.

YOUR LIVING, BREATHING WEBSITE

Starting now, think of your website as a living being.

What gives your website a sense of fulfillment? What makes it happy? What is its purpose?

A website is happiest when people are clicking through its pages, exploring and interacting with its content. When someone scrolls down a page to read further, it’s as if your website is receiving a warm pat on the back and a word of encouragement – “Good job!” When a visitor fills out a contact form, it’s as if he or she is saying, “It was nice meeting you, and I would like to get together again!”

But when visitors click the back button after only a quick glance at your homepage, the website feels a deep sense of rejection. Imagine if someone walked up to you, started to shake your hand, then took one look at your face and hightailed it out of the room.

Take a look at the Apple website. Clean, sleek, sophisticated, it fulfills its purpose of captivating its audience and showcasing the Apple products. To this day, the designers at Apple still practice what they preach.

apple website

Of course, your website doesn’t actually have a soul, or feelings, or a desire to fulfill its purpose. But Jobs and Ive have convinced me that the concept of “products with a soul” is an important mindset to adopt. It helps you create a more vibrant, enjoyable, profitable website. And it’s the key to creating products that change our world.

UP NEXT: MORE DESIGN PHILOSOPHY

Next week I will discuss the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, and how his design philosophies about simplicity and minimalism can be applied to your website design.

YOUR TURN

If your website had soul and a purpose, would it feel beautiful, interesting, and needed? Or would it feel unattractive, boring and unwanted? 

Tell us about your website in the comments section below!

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