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Apple MacWorld CAPS125-jpgJonathan Ive (1967- ) is a British industrial designer at Apple Computers. He designed the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone, helping to change Apple’s fortunes. He designed the computer that I write this on. He should be a household name, an icon of our age, but few know who he is.

He does not design the computer parts themselves – the chips and programs and so on – but how they are put together into something that people can use.

The best example of this is the iPod. It was hardly the first music player or even MP3 player. But not only has the iPod taken over that market, it has made that market: it made music players a part of everyday life. And that is because of Ive’s design and the way he thinks about design.

Ive is driven by two ideas:

  1. Make it simpler: Take out anything that does not absolutely have to be there, in how it looks and in how it works. In designing the iPod he was able to get it down to five buttons and a scroll wheel. What is more, from the way it looks you do not even know about four of the buttons at first. That is no accident.
  2. Make it better: Make it not only better – simpler and cooler looking – than what is currently being sold but make it better than itself: do not stop, keep going, keep pushing. That is why when the iPod first appeared in the marketplace it was not just somewhat better than other players, it was on a whole other level.

You also need the courage throw away designs that you feel deep down are no good and start all over again.

One of the main things that have kept computers and things made out of computers, like music players and mobile phones, from being more widely accepted is that they are not simple: there are too many choices of what to do next, some of them leading to bad outcomes!

The fault lies not in computers or in people but in the lack of good design in between. Most companies do not give it enough attention.

So Ive’s aim is not only to make things simpler to use but to make them more inviting by the way they look. He does that partly by giving them a clean look and by his use of colour.

Ive grew up in Chingford in London, the son of a silversmith. He studied design at Northumbria University and worked for Tangerine, a London design company. One of their customers was Apple. He felt he could have more say in Apple’s designs if he worked for them, so in 1992 he joined Apple. By 1998 he had become the head of design.

Ive likes to dress in black. He drives an Aston Martin, often works 70 hours a week and makes about $2,000,000 a year (150,000 crowns). He is worth every penny.

– Abagond, 2009, 2016.

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mobile app design

ibeerA mobile app is a program or website that works on a mobile phone, particularly smartphones like the iPhone or the T-Mobile G1.

What to keep in mind:

  • The screens are small and come in different sizes.
  • On the Internet they are slow: it is 1995 all over again.
  • They can be used outdoors where the lighting is different.
  • A telephone call can come in during the middle of your app.
  • Typing and clicking are much more painful to do.
  • They are commonly used repeatedly in odd moments throughout the day.
  • Most have cameras and some even accelerometers and GPS.
  • Battery life has to be considered.
  • It is hard to use more than one app at a time.
  • If your app does not do something useful in 30 seconds, then it is useless.

Some notes on designing a mobile app:

  • Think about what people want to know, do and feel. Make users feel good about what they are doing. Your aim is not to show off but to make life easier, better and simpler for them.
  • Avoid shovelware: design it for the mobile phone from the ground up.
  • About half your time will be spent in design, the other half in coding and testing.
  • Design on paper with a fat marker. Do not try to put too much on a screen: keep it simple. Design all screens and the complete flow between them. When you think you are done, go back over it and make it better. Do that again and again. Design as much of the app on paper as possible.
  • Build on the user’s experience of the physical world.
  • Without scrolling the user should see branding, the most frequently used functions and the most important information.
  • Cut out all typing, clicking, scrolling and zooming wherever possible.
  • Prefer scrolling to clicking.
  • People see and understand images and colours first. They look at things with rounded corners.
  • Use presets that covers 80% of users.
  • Get something simple working first. Then add to it bit by bit, but keep it solid. Then make it fast. Then make it good-looking. Then make it cool.
  • Eat your own dog food: use the app for yourself.
  • Scratch the itch: if something about the app gets to you, then make it right and good.
  • Test, test, test:
    • Test for speed.
    • Test on all supported mobile phones.
    • Test indoors and outdoors.
    • Test when a call comes in.
  • Get it as good as you can before you put it out: if users do not like it, they will not wait for the update.
  • Remember you can use sound – but do not depend on it.
  • For websites:
    • Use simple HTML for the things on your pages.
    • Use CSS to make it look cool.
    • You can use JavaScript, but do not count on it always being supported.
    • Do not use a fixed-width layout. Do not count on more than 240 x 320.
    • Provide links to both the mobile and full version of the website (if they are different).

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