Apple Product Design Secrets

Apple has the unique ability to design products that appeal to the emotions as well as the way customers want to interact with a device. Just how they do that is no great secret; itis just that many other companies donit bother, according to Technology Review.

When Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997, he wanted to make products that stood out from the plain-jane PC crowd. It was an immediate way to differentiate Apple products and start the process of saving the company he founded. Along the way, however, that industrial design process has woven itself into the very fabric of Apple.

Apple starts by paying very close attention to the manufacturing process. They ask the manufacturer what they can do to improve or modify the process. Sometimes, a manufacturer ends up completely revising their process based on input and demands from Apple.

A notable example is the "double-shot" method that appeared on the original iPod. This means combining different layers with different materials and colors.

Don Norman, a user interface expert, who worked for Apple in the 1990s as vice president of advanced technology, recalled the process of conceiving a new product. "There were three evaluations required at the inception of a product idea: a marketing requirement document, an engineering requirement document, and a user experience document." The user experience document defines how people like to do things. And a large part of that comes directly from the mind and guidance of Mr. Steve Jobs.

"Critical to Appleis success in design is the way Jobs brought focus and discipline to the product teams," Norman said. "[Jobs] had a single, cohesive image of the final product and would not allow any deviation, no matter how promising a new proposed feature appeared to be, no matter how much the team complained. Other companies are more democratic, listening to everyoneis opinions, and the result is bloat and a lack of cohesion."

The hardest part, according to Mr. Norman is "keeping features out."

Finally, thereis the emotional reaction to a product. People who feel attracted to a device have more of an interest in learning about it. In his 2004 book, Emotional Design, Mr. Norman wrote, "Positive emotions are critical to learning, curiosity, and creative thought.... The psychologist Alice Isen and her colleagues have shown that being happy broadens the thought processes and facilitates creative thinking."

The secrets arenit really secrets after all. Itis all about how the customer is perceived and treated.