Jony Ive aka Apple's design guru. But what about IxD?

11 Jan 2007 - 5:57pm
7 years ago
18 replies
1840 reads
niklasw
2005

Jonathan Ive is praised for the design of Apple products. By many in
the general public he has almost a rock star status and those people
probably know that he's responsible for product design at Apple.

>From what I know he is an industrial designer. His title is VP of
Industrial design at Apple. And then is he responsible for only the
physical design of apple product or more?

Who is responsible for the IxD of those Apple products? Of course
there's a team behind it but couldn't there be room for a Jonathan Ive
for IxD.? Someone that could be a great advocate for IxD to that same
general public?

Or at least someone I could/should know about? :-)

Any comments? Have I missed something?

--Niklas

Comments

11 Jan 2007 - 6:35pm
DanP
2006

Niklas,

I eluded to this earlier - ID at Apple can touch anything they want.
However, there is a Human Interface group at Apple that deals with
software usability and conformance issues, and they deal with many of
the things we think of as IxD. They've published some amazing
interface design work - I'm sure most people here have seen Apple's
Interface Design Guidelines at developer.apple.com. In any case, I
think you'd be surprised how much of this IxD work comes from
individual skunkworks projects, in contrast to the concerted
Industrial Design efforts. I can't go into details, but what you see
in multi-touch, for instance, started in a very modest way.

As an aside, a decent portion of the interface that is now Apple came
from work done at NeXT.. There was a gentleman there named Keith Ohlfs:

http://www.ohlfs.com/keith/self/next/next.html

The underlying technology (used to be called AppKit) set the stage
for much of the interface work done above it, and was a
conglomeration of engineering and design minds over a great many
years... software people such as Avie Tevanian, Bertrand Serlet most
notably led that charge.

Pinpointing a huge personality such as Ives in the IxD realm at Apple
would be tough, because it is very much a shared task and no one
particular person jumps out.

At least, that's my take on things.
-Dan

On Jan 11, 2007, at 3:57 PM, Niklas Wolkert wrote:

> Who is responsible for the IxD of those Apple products? Of course
> there's a team behind it but couldn't there be room for a Jonathan Ive
> for IxD.? Someone that could be a great advocate for IxD to that same
> general public?

11 Jan 2007 - 6:46pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I won't debate the activities inside of Apple as I have not worked
there, but I do not think of human factors, usability and conformance
as IxD issues. Usability in particular is backwards looking and often
scrutinized as the product is being finished or released. IxD -
interactive design and in particular experience design tends to be
more proactive and visionary. I do not think of conformance or
standards when designing experience. I think of aspirations and
goals. This is a very important difference.

Mark

On Jan 11, 2007, at 7:35 PM, dnp607 wrote:

> However, there is a Human Interface group at Apple that deals with
> software usability and conformance issues, and they deal with many of
> the things we think of as IxD.

11 Jan 2007 - 6:56pm
DanP
2006

Apologies Mark, much of the terminology in the industry is still very
confusing to me. Determining which fields enter the process at what
stage, and the boundaries of each has also proven elusive...
Especially depending on who you ask. Thanks for the clarification.

Terminology aside, I believe what Niklas is looking for resides in
the HID group, if at all.

-D

On Jan 11, 2007, at 4:46 PM, Mark Schraad wrote:

> I won't debate the activities inside of Apple as I have not worked
> there, but I do not think of human factors, usability and conformance
> as IxD issues. Usability in particular is backwards looking and often
> scrutinized as the product is being finished or released. IxD -
> interactive design and in particular experience design tends to be
> more proactive and visionary. I do not think of conformance or
> standards when designing experience. I think of aspirations and
> goals. This is a very important difference.
>
> Mark
>
>
> On Jan 11, 2007, at 7:35 PM, dnp607 wrote:
>
>> However, there is a Human Interface group at Apple that deals with
>> software usability and conformance issues, and they deal with many of
>> the things we think of as IxD.
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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11 Jan 2007 - 7:08pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Nicely put. Context is everything in design. The better ID schools
have taught this for years. That is why I think ID students often
make better graphic designers. It does not take long to teach type
and color if you get the basics of contextual usage and have a design
process that works.

Mark

On Jan 11, 2007, at 8:00 PM, Kevin Wong wrote:

> To the point of J. Ive and IxD, I think that Industrial Designers
> share a lot of the same intentions as IxD practitioners.

11 Jan 2007 - 9:22pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> However, there is a Human Interface group at Apple that deals with
> software usability and conformance issues, and they deal with many of
> the things we think of as IxD.

According to Donald Norman:

"Nonetheless, Apple replaced its well known, well-respected human
interface design team with a single, authoritative (dictatorial)
leader. Did usability suffer? On the contrary: its new products are
considered prototypes of great design."

-r-

11 Jan 2007 - 9:23pm
.pauric
2006

"Usability in particular is backwards looking and often scrutinized as the
product is being finished or released. IxD -
interactive design and in particular experience design tends to be more
proactive and visionary."

True, they are different, but in my experience its more of a symbiotic
relationship. In an ongoing product roadmap the usability back end results
feed in to research used for front end design, grounding the vision.
Designing experience is "aspirations and
goals" but should also take in to account context, consistency and
branding. That is, the small form factor itunes on the iphone should look
and operate in a similar fashion to its big brother on the desktop. Its why
the iphone looks like the next gen ipod, not something completely new.

It certainly starts with a vision, but if you've got a winner on your hands
you dont try to fix it at the start of the next project.

11 Jan 2007 - 9:27pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> Jonathan Ive is praised for the design of Apple products. By many in
> the general public he has almost a rock star status and those people
> probably know that he's responsible for product design at Apple.

Tricky question. Even Ives is well known for handing off credit to his
whole team, so in theory, yes, even though IxD work is often
team-driven and is the result of many designers working together or
through some disparate, linear process, it's possible that someone in
IxD could attain such status. It's unlikely, though, that this would
happen unless that person worked for Apple or another company
consistently putting out great design work. And as we all know, those
companies are few and far between.

-r-

11 Jan 2007 - 11:08pm
Esteban Barahona
2006

2007/1/11, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <rhoekmanjr en gmail.com>:
>
> (...) It's unlikely, though, that this would
> happen unless that person worked for Apple or another company
> consistently putting out great design work. And as we all know, those
> companies are few and far between.
>
> -r-

That (few companies putting out great design work) may be true, but why?
>From the discussions in this thread, and some comments on forums and blogs
of users, there's no lack of ideas that should be given a chance... This may
be another thread, why businesses choke design?!

--
http://www.zensui.org

11 Jan 2007 - 11:17pm
DanP
2006

There were a couple of HI groups when I left - don't know who the
leader is. There was one for all of the "i"Apps teams, one for Aqua
(osx), and I think one for sys-admin tools. Most of the published
docs can be accessed here if interested: http://developer.apple.com/ue/

Has anyone gotten a "Leopard Starter Kit" yet?

-D

On Jan 11, 2007, at 7:22 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

>> However, there is a Human Interface group at Apple that deals with
>> software usability and conformance issues, and they deal with many of
>> the things we think of as IxD.
>
> According to Donald Norman:
>
> "Nonetheless, Apple replaced its well known, well-respected human
> interface design team with a single, authoritative (dictatorial)
> leader. Did usability suffer? On the contrary: its new products are
> considered prototypes of great design."
>
> -r-

12 Jan 2007 - 8:12am
AlokJain
2006

I think this is a leadership thing, I would be surprised (though anything is
possible) if Jobs defines every pixel on the interface, I expect a design
team to build prototypes after research etc.. and then Jobs reviews and
pushes the team in a certain direction.

It's similar (i won't say same) as any other business role, a sales rep is
much more closely in touch with the market but senior management takes the
call.

I think the strength is really the vision, Jobs has a clear vision one
fundamentals of what he wants apple products to achieve - simplicity,
emotional response etc.. and as products get designed he provides direction
( may be dictate) based on those fundamental rules. and again I think that's
true of any leadership role, just that we have not seen as much of this kind
of leadership in UX space as in other space.

Main point being that I think having a UCD process and a visionary who is
driven to build great products can and does coexist in apple..

--
Best Regards
Alok Jain
----------------------------------------------------------
http://www.iPrincipia.com

12 Jan 2007 - 8:27am
.pauric
2006

Apologies if this was posted on this list, I cant remember where I saw the
links recently, here are two videos of Steve Jobs and the Next team in
meetings

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdPxKDJzt7Q
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efnKLV7wSNk

11 Jan 2007 - 7:00pm
Kevin Wong
2007

I think what Mark touched on is a valid point. From my experience
getting into the IxD field, it seems that the importance in design
rests in capturing the dimensions of human behaviors (as individuals
and in groups). It's the awareness and conscious decision making that
drives a vision into reality. Coupled with an understanding in
technology and it's impact on social dynamics early and throughout
product develop is more of what I feel is IxD.

To the point of J. Ive and IxD, I think that Industrial Designers
share a lot of the same intentions as IxD practitioners. Who knows,
maybe he does understand IxD very well while initially having an
education in ID. In Bill Moggridge's new book, Design Interactions,
ID and IxD are parallels with one traditionally focused on the
physical space while the other on the cyber/imaginative (help me out
here with words) space. Regardless, they both try to satisfy desire,
sense of belonging, growth and usefulness. Plus, a title is just a
title, it does not define the engagement or responsibilities entirely.

Kevin

On Jan 11, 2007, at 4:46 PM, Mark Schraad wrote:

> I won't debate the activities inside of Apple as I have not worked
> there, but I do not think of human factors, usability and conformance
> as IxD issues. Usability in particular is backwards looking and often
> scrutinized as the product is being finished or released. IxD -
> interactive design and in particular experience design tends to be
> more proactive and visionary. I do not think of conformance or
> standards when designing experience. I think of aspirations and
> goals. This is a very important difference.
>
> Mark
>
>
> On Jan 11, 2007, at 7:35 PM, dnp607 wrote:
>
>> However, there is a Human Interface group at Apple that deals with
>> software usability and conformance issues, and they deal with many of
>> the things we think of as IxD.
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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12 Jan 2007 - 9:49am
LukeW
2004

"Jobs compared pixel to pixel from Director prototype to OSX
prototype, if it wasn’t right it had to be fixed."

-OSX and Longhorn Development
http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?306

On Jan 12, 2007, at 6:12 AM, Alok Jain wrote:

> I think this is a leadership thing, I would be surprised (though
> anything is
> possible) if Jobs defines every pixel on the interface, I expect a
> design
> team to build prototypes after research etc.. and then Jobs reviews
> and
> pushes the team in a certain direction.

::
:: Luke Wroblewski -[ www.lukew.com ]
:: Principal/Founder, LukeW Interface Designs
:: luke at lukew.com | 408.879.9826
::

12 Jan 2007 - 12:21pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> That (few companies putting out great design work) may be true, but why?
> From the discussions in this thread, and some comments on forums and blogs
> of users, there's no lack of ideas that should be given a chance... This may
> be another thread, why businesses choke design?!
>

Even trickier question. Apple has mass appeal going for it (largely due to
the iPod) and is well-known for aesthetic excellence.Not many companies even
attempt to make this claim. Even fewer succeed.

Many companies simply haven't figured it out yet. They haven't figured out
that great design leads to rabid fans. They haven't figured out that Apple
knows something they don't. As a result, they're usually just fighting to
get more me-too crap out the door and hope for the best. It's the
duck-and-cover approach. I think this happens because not enough companies
are run by people who have real vision and are bold risk-takers. They're all
just fighting to survive and are so preoccupied with surviving that they
forget to be great.

Man, I sound jaded. :)

-r-

12 Jan 2007 - 1:58pm
niklasw
2005

On 1/12/07, jackbellis.com <jackbellis at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Niklas, are you asking...
> Is there a publicly known icon of interaction design?
> If there isn't, could there be and how?

Thank you Jack, In essence yes.

And I think the discussion is about that... sort of :) Getting such an
icon for IxD is in my view just another step in the process to market
IxD. Industrial designers, architects, fashion designers and graphic
designers has and have had several. Icons that inspire followers,
promote the trade and just adds all sorts of values to the 'other'
practitioners of that specific design genre. Thats why I think there
should be one or several in IxD?

These design genres are more accessible to the general public and they
definitely have had a couple of decades or even centuries to establish
themselves. But I don't think that should stop us.

And to connect to that discussion I'd also like to add a spice about
what is aesthetics in IxD? Could that be something IxDers must be
clearer on to make it more accessible? I for one think so (Jonas
Löwgren on pliability. Schneiderman/Ahlberg on Thigth coupling).

Good IxD is also about aesthetics and In my opinion when we choose the
"design" in our title we also choose that responsibility to the
public. Now we have to make the public understand that it is us who
take and have that responsibility. Maybe a public Icon could be a
beginning of that?

--Niklas

PS
I was also hoping that the new apple phone didn't have to be mentioned
yet another time ;)
DS

13 Jan 2007 - 8:16pm
mtumi
2004

I would bet that Jonathan Ives has a big influence on the interaction
design as well. Personally (and I look forward to being flamed on
this), I think it is a perversity of the interaction design community
that for the most part they seem to consider their work to be beyond
the reach of both programmers and people with design training that is
not specifically focused on interaction design.

MT

On Jan 12, 2007, at 12:17 AM, dnp607 wrote:

>
> There were a couple of HI groups when I left - don't know who the
> leader is. There was one for all of the "i"Apps teams, one for Aqua
> (osx), and I think one for sys-admin tools. Most of the published
> docs can be accessed here if interested: http://developer.apple.com/
> ue/
>
> Has anyone gotten a "Leopard Starter Kit" yet?
>
> -D
>
> On Jan 11, 2007, at 7:22 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:
>
>>> However, there is a Human Interface group at Apple that deals with
>>> software usability and conformance issues, and they deal with
>>> many of
>>> the things we think of as IxD.
>>
>> According to Donald Norman:
>>
>> "Nonetheless, Apple replaced its well known, well-respected human
>> interface design team with a single, authoritative (dictatorial)
>> leader. Did usability suffer? On the contrary: its new products are
>> considered prototypes of great design."
>>
>> -r-
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

31 Jan 2007 - 7:51pm
natekendrick
2005

On Jan 11, 2007, at 7:22 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

>> However, there is a Human Interface group at Apple that deals with
>> software usability and conformance issues, and they deal with many of
>> the things we think of as IxD.
>
> According to Donald Norman:
>
> "Nonetheless, Apple replaced its well known, well-respected human
> interface design team with a single, authoritative (dictatorial)
> leader. Did usability suffer? On the contrary: its new products are
> considered prototypes of great design."
>
> -r-

overheard elsewhere...

"Nonetheless, the design industry has replaced well respected
designers the world over with single, well-known (from Silicon
Valley), figureheads. Does design suffer? On the contrary, design is
now a buzzword with Business Week!"

okay okay, re-read the preceding with just a hint of sarcasm.

31 Jan 2007 - 7:55pm
natekendrick
2005

On Jan 12, 2007, at 11:58 AM, Niklas Wolkert wrote:

> And I think the discussion is about that... sort of :) Getting such an
> icon for IxD is in my view just another step in the process to market
> IxD. Industrial designers, architects, fashion designers and graphic
> designers has and have had several. Icons that inspire followers,
> promote the trade and just adds all sorts of values to the 'other'
> practitioners of that specific design genre. Thats why I think there
> should be one or several in IxD?

Inspire? Do we need "Icons" to do this?

No! Society does not need designers to fit or follow molds of icons
or famous people. Goodness, we don't want to be in the state that the
tv/film industry is in or that fashion is in.

We see product design heading the same way... I'm sure good ol' Jonny
Ive didn't want to see bondi blue plastic products lining the isles
of stores.

My inspiration came from the designers that I worked with and
mentored me.

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