A Peek At Apple’s Design Process

Helen Walters put up a very interesting post called “Apple’s design process” on one of the Business Week blogs. It outlines some comments from Michael Lopp, senior engineering manager at Apple.

After describing Apple’s process of delivering consumers with a succession of presents (“really good ideas wrapped up in other really good ideas” – in other words, great software in fabulous hardware in beautiful packaging), he asked the question many have asked in their time: “How the f*ck do you do that?”

Lopp points to these 4 key elements of Apple’s design process:

  1. Pixel Perfect Mockups: Removes ambiguity from the beginning
  2. 10 to 3 to 1: Start with 10 entirely different mock-ups for any feature, select three to spend months on designing, and then end up with one.
  3. Paired Design Meetings: They hold 2 meetings each week throughout the process: one for unconstrained brainstorming and the other for production details.
  4. Pony Meeting: Everyone has their wants; like kids all want a pony. So they present the best options from the paired design meetings to the leadership team to select their “ponies.”

The bottom line: What processes does your firm have for ensuring ongoing innovation and compelling design alternatives?

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I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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