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Steve Jobs Sucked at Design

by Daniel V. Licht (@thedvl) Uh oh. I’ve done it now. Look, I’m an Apple advocate, have been since the first time I saw my Uncle’s Mac I (I’ve never owned anything but an Apple computer). That being said, Steve Jobs was many things, visionary, idea machine, brilliant businessman. But what he wasn’t was a Read more

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by Daniel V. Licht (@thedvl)

Uh oh.

I’ve done it now.

Look, I’m an Apple advocate, have been since the first time I saw my Uncle’s Mac I (I’ve never owned anything but an Apple computer). That being said, Steve Jobs was many things, visionary, idea machine, brilliant businessman. But what he wasn’t was a designer.

What he was, was a marketer. One of the best marketer the world may ever know. Regardless of how good or in some rare cases bad (anyone remember the hockey puck mouse released with the first iMac??) he made us all want … correction NEED these products. It didn’t matter if we had a perfectly good computer at home, or mobile phone. We needed to have the newest device he was hawking. And why? There are all the normal things we can point at; great product design (thanks to John Ive), great functionality (thanks that app guy who’s name this creative can never remember). But its the wanting them, the anticipation, the ads and campaigns leading up to them that build that desire to have them.

So, Steve Jobs was no designer. But he did oversee his companies marketing, product development and design teams. Since he was so influential in the visual design of his company and it’s products lets look at those things that we now take as common place or have influenced our ideas of design, marketing and even advertising.

Lets start off with “1984” obviously unthought of in its time. Creating such a cinematic commercial for a brand many didn’t know. But as we know it’s considered a benchmark and has influenced countless filmmakers since.

Now, on to a more traditional marketing example. The “think different” ads. These are some of my favorites. The simplicity. The elegance. The black and white photos of, well, people who thought differently. Picasso, Henson, Einstein, Hitchock, and many more. Makes you think they should revive it with Jobs, ‘cause he did think very differently.

Where would our kids be every summer without an awesome visual feast from Pixar? Well, if not for Jobs they would be no where. Though he didn’t have much to do with Pixar’s visual style his ability to see into how important what they were doing made it possible.

All of these are great examples but the real design change that Steve has given us is how we think about computers and our interaction with them. No, this isn’t going to turn into a Siri post. Rather I’m talking about the advances in interaction design, in information display and order. Just look at Windows (only for a short time, or you will be sorry). Most of the good things in the Windows UI are direct rip offs from Macintosh OS (any version). We all know plagiarism is the greatest form of flattery, right? Well the Mac OS is probably the most copied style out there. It literally drives design decisions. I remember when OSX as released with its “Aqua” interface. The shines, the rounded “lozenge” buttons started to show up everywhere, and the hyper-realism. And now if we look at the changes being rolled out via iOS5 and OSX Lion we can see even more stylistic changes that are appearing elsewhere. Less shine more smooth textures, less lozenges and more usable rounded corner buttons. These will be appearing at an interface near you very shortly, weather it be your favorite blog or PS3 video game Apple sets the trend.

As I stated before, Steve didn’t personally design these, but what he did was instill the need for a new change. A way to better the design of his products and the experience of his highly devoted customers.

The question is what design hasn’t Steve Jobs influenced?

 

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