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 am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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