Graphic Design Lessons from the Late Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple Computer, was unique among

computer technology innovators in that he was not a man of microchips

nor was he a trained industrial designer. Instead, he was a man of the

people who knew what they wanted – and knew how budding technology, such

as computers, could improve the lives of people around the world.

It’s

this understanding of human nature and the human response to technology

that those in both computer science and graphic design often fail to

grasp through their academic training and the application of what

they’ve learned. While Jobs has left us, his insights into design, which

were the core of Apple Computer success, will carry on.

The following are a select few:

MAXIMIZE EVERY MOMENT

When the Macintosh was first being developed, the young Steve Jobs

was incessantly demanding when it came to quickening the boot up time.

Developers and investors alike were at first resistant to the idea that

spending two weeks to shave off one second of start up time was worth

it. Jobs responded by configuring all the individual seconds that would

be wasted over time if they didn’t make it shorter, which added up to

literal lifetimes of productivity gone out the window. The lesson? Make

usability as efficient as possible, to the second, or else you’re

literally just wasting time. Time that could be spent on figuring out how to fund the purchase of a quicker computer and figuring out which are the best credit cards for doing so.

BE APPREHENSIVE ABOUT ADOBE FLASH

Steve Jobs was not a fan of Flash. His feelings worsened as the tech

world moved in the mobile era we find ourselves in today. Jobs felt that

an animation third-party platform had no business in the touchscreen

era. Designers – take this into serious consideration. Mobile traffic is

expected to quadruple by the year 2015. This will almost exclusively be

on touchscreen smartphones. iPhone users will not be able to access

sites with Flash – a lasting legacy of Jobs.

YOUR LOGO IS YOUR LIFE

The Apple logo has mostly stayed the same for almost 30 years. It was

once rainbow, but now it’s sheeny white and gray, and that’s about it.

When Jobs created the NeXT education computer system, he went to great

lengths to ensure that famous graphic designer Paul Rand was the one who

created the logo. The logo is the life of the company: it’s the brand

association people will experience the most often, and it’s essential

that you make it count. What’s most important is making sure it’s a logo

that will last.

CALCULATE FOR COMFORT

Everything Apple did in it’s approach to design came down to the

comfort of the human user. People are absorbed in many stress-filled situations in their lives–relationships, financial situations, and low interest credit card offers. Simplicity at any level can help, and this was one of Jobs’s mantras. Even his infamously unassuming signature

black turtleneck, faded blue jeans, and sneakers he wore at press events

was meant to make consumers more relaxed than they otherwise would if

he were wearing a suit. Design should always be geared towards keeping

the user happy. Unhappy user experience is detrimental to the success of

design.

At Apple, design was everything. That was because to Steve Jobs,

design was everything. But that was only because he knew that to people,

design means everything. Without a satisfying user experience,

technology falls flat. Design exists to ensure that experience is ideal.

Jobs knew it. Do you?

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