Thursday, September 26, 2013

Simplicity, Design and Steve Jobs


I finished reading Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson in July 2013. Since so much has already been written about the book, I am just sharing here what I liked out of the book. As some one who has been influenced by Don Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things" ( this book deserves a separate post - more of it later), this post focuses on Jobs and Apple Products' Design.


For me, what stood out through out the book was Jobs' ability to simplify  and focus. Probably this was the reason why the quote "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, was on the Apple's first  Brochure.


Apple II Brochure*
According to Issacson, Jobs, aimed for the simplicity that comes from conquering complexities, not ignoring them. To quote Jobs “It takes a lot of hard work, to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.”

Jony Ive , Apple's senior vice president of Design, elaborates on the idea and adds that the simplicity is achieved by overcoming complexity and not by hiding it. To Quote Jony Ive,

"Why do we assume that simple is good? Because with physical products, we have to feel we can dominate them. As you bring order to complexity, you find a way to make the product defer to you. Simplicity isn’t just a visual style. It’s not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep. For example, to have no screws on something, you can end up having a product that is so convoluted and so complex. The better way is to go deeper with the simplicity, to understand everything about it and how it’s manufactured. You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential."

When i read the words, "To be truly simple, you have to go really deep", it struck a chord in me.  I think these are profound words and it applies to all fields and not just product design.  If you take any product ( that may include a software) or a service that you love to use, you can be sure that lot of hard work has gone into bringing it to it's current state.


* Source - http://www.computerhistory.org

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