Apple is Destroying Design, Early Mac UI Designers Argue

Bruce Tognazzini, founder of Apple’s Human Interface Group, and Don Norman, a former Apple exec, have published an extensive piece on FastCoDesign claiming the iPhone maker has abandoned the fundamental principles of good design: discoverability, feedback, recovery, and so on.


If you have read Tognazzini’s most-read blog post, you may be familiar with his thoughts about Apple’s products: Although the products are more beautiful than before, he seems to suffer on a daily basis from the mistakes Apple made while creating them (that’s because he uses these products).

The design problems highlighted in the article seem to relate particularly to mobile devices: Apple no longer follows the well-known, well-established principles of design the company developed several decades ago, Tognazzini writes. In fact, Apple is “destroying design”, he says:

Apple is destroying design. Worse, it is revitalizing the old belief that design is only about making things look pretty. No, not so! Design is a way of thinking, of determining people’s true, underlying needs, and then delivering products and services that help them. Design combines an understanding of people, technology, society, and business. The production of beautiful objects is only one small component of modern design: Designers today work on such problems as the design of cities, of transportation systems, of health care. Apple is reinforcing the old, discredited idea that the designer’s sole job is to make things beautiful, even at the expense of providing the right functions, aiding understandability, and ensuring ease of use.

Apple’s influence on the tech world is inevitable. What’s alarming, Tognazzini writes, is that others have started following Apple’s example and are making exactly the same mistakes – think Google, for example.

You can read the full piece on FastCoDesign’s website.