‘Evan Davis decodes the formula that took Apple from suburban garage to global supremacy’, says BBC iPlayer of Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy. Well, up to a point. Interesting though it was, the programme didn’t seem to grasp the importance of design in Apple’s success. Lord Stephen Fry, apparently wheeled out as the voice of the user (why is this condescending, self-important public schoolboy so popular?), told us that when things look good we like using them and they work better. We needed a better insight.
Around the time of the first G5 Power Mac Jobs talked about the way design is central to Apple. How the computer worked, both software and hardware, was designed; design was more than a cosmetic afterthought. They thought about how people used computers and made the computers fit around the people, not the other way round. iPhones and iPads are successful not just because Apple found a way to package up the internet into small pieces, as Davis put it, but because using them is insanely easy.
That is an attitude that we share, despite the vast differences between our companies. ‘What will make this piece easy to read?’ is one of the key unspoken questions when we are asked to design something. The answers are usually pretty simple, things like the getting the right number of words on a line and the right relationship between word spacing and line spacing, but they are what make the difference.