Mini Cooper Design Sketch

Design goes mainstream

Published 4 years ago · 2 mins read

2 mins read

There’s one thing about the recent delivery of iOS7 that surprised me most: there was almost no talk about the OS feature set. Instead, everybody was talking about its design. Endless discussions started in the design community but also – maybe for the first time – spread outside, gaining pages on generalist media such as the New York Times or Forbes.

Literally, everybody was talking of it: UX Design, User Interface Design, Visual design. Well call it as you prefer, but it went mainstream.

This is not a sudden change: the shift have been happening slowly but steadily in the last years. Apple is – of course – a precursor on this journey: Jobs’ company focus on good hardware and software design has been in its DNA since the beginning. With the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad this design taste has just reached a much much wider audience. In the last couple of years Microsoft and Google joined the race by providing more and more sophisticated design for their products and actually giving a strong contribution to what is the currently dominant trend: Flat Design.

And that is physiological: when you can’t compete only only around tech specs or endless feature sets, the key selling point of a product becomes its User Experience.

Talking about the current mobile industry landscape, Nick Summers correctly points out how the average user will eventually end up ignoring the specs of the phone he’s going to buy, by going for a “phone that just works”. Don’t get me wrong: specs will still be important, but only as soon as they can influence the experience of using the device, otherwise they become irrelevant. Comparing the mobile industry to the car one, Nick says:

Similar to the car industry, incremental changes under the hood – improving the power, fuel consumption, safety features and so forth – will become secondary to our personal tastes.

– Does it drive well?
– Do I like the design?
– How does it make me feel on a day-to-day basis?

Working in the IT industry, I can get how more and more tech guys and managers are increasingly talking about design and user experience. Even if they may not get its meaning completely, it seems that people working in the IT sector are finally understanding the real business value of the final User Exprience, of how the product will look like.

Nevertheless, even if we’re maybe finally getting into the era of Design we shouldn’t forget what a famous guy once said:

Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

Steve Jobs, in The Gut of a New Machine

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