Good Design Is a Team Sport

Good Design Is a Team Sport

A new book, The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, chronicles the two year process Apple went through to create what became the template for the modern smartphone. Like it or not, the iPhone did change the mobile phone business significantly. But the design was not solely dependent on Steve Jobs. An anecdote from the book highlights how the device’s success came about through iteration, hard work and a focus on the end user – all valuable lessons for today’s developers.

During the development process, Jobs wanted the iPhone to have a permanent back button, according to a review of the book at BGR. But one of the designers on the team, Imran Chaudhri, convinced Jobs that the one-button approach was better for users as it was simpler and offered a more consistent user experience.

While one of the interesting observations in the review by BGR was that “the book includes a number of examples of Steve Jobs having to be talked into ideas that he was subsequently given credit for coming up with himself”, it highlights the importance of having a team where ideas could be shared and designs that may have seemed like a good idea at the start of a project can be found wanting later once deeper thought and analysis is made.

Great design is rarely the result of an instantaneous flash of brilliance. It takes time and iteration to refine something until all the rough edges are removed. That requires a team that listens to each other and can hear it when someone tells them they have a better idea.

And, if you worked at Apple with Steve Jobs, some thick skin when he appropriated your ideas.