I don’t know if you own an Apple iPhone or an iPad but you only have to pick them up and touch them to realize that they are designed with a genius that goes beyond the physical. They are intuitive and work with an understanding that blends the human experience with technology.
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Steve Jobs is maybe “the” design genius of the information age and has made major impact on several industries with his technology designs and creations including
- The personal computer industry with Apple in the 1980’s,
- The movie animation industry with Pixar in 1986 when he bought the company for $5 million from George Lucas (all of its movies are among the top 50 grossing movies of all time and have generated over $6.3 billion in revenue)
- The music industry with the iPod and the Apple iTunes store
- The mobile phone industry with the Apple iPhone and Apps store
- The publishing industry with the iPad (the fastest selling technology device in history)
- The newspaper industry? ..this one is a work in progress (read this article of Apple and Rupert Murdoch’s plans for news)
In 1996 Steve Jobs was interviewed by “Wired Magazine” and he said this about design.
“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it “looks”. But of course if you dig deeper , its really how it “works”. The design of the Mac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. To design something really well, you have to “get it”. You have to really “grok ” what it’s all about. It takes a passionate comittment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it , not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.”
The term “Grok” by the way is a real word and not a “Jobian” expression.
It means according to the Oxford English Dictionary “to understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with” and “to empathize or communicate sympathetically with).
Wikipaedia says “To grok is to share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity“.
Author Robert A. Heinlein coined the term in his best-selling 1961 book Stranger in a Strange Land. In Heinlein’s view, grokking is the intermingling of intelligence that necessarily affects both the observer and the observed.
I am immersed and enmeshed in the web industry both personally and professionally and have the pleasure and privilege to work with people and their companies with their online stores, web design and digital marketing projects.
The constant challenge is to get under their skin and understand intuitively and empathically what they are trying to achieve and how they want to communicate to their audience. The websites we design and the solution we build need to go beyond the skin deep look and feel and provide the user with an experience that solves their problems and makes life a little easier. In essence we are trying to change the world in our small way.
The genius in design is to ask enough questions and spend enough time so that we “get it” and blend the technology with the human so we can provide an experience that goes beyond the ordinary and into the realm of of intuition and maybe a little magic.
Do you get under your customers skin?
Image by jaudrius