This isn’t the first usability critique of Apple from Don Norman, but now it’s Tog helping out.

Which is significant, since Bruce Tognazzini founded the Apple Human Interface Group as Apple employee #66. Norman was User Experience Architect and VP of the Advanced Technology Group.

The gist of the article is that Apple is backsliding, where design is back to making pretty things rather than making things usable.

This goes back to the lecture I never wrote past the title ‘The Death of Affordances’ — although Norman, after popularizing the term affordance (with examples such as the push door with a pull handle) now calls signifiers. For the sake of either minimalism or beautification, buttons and scrollbars are gone with the idea that people will just figure it out. Which was the mantra 25 years ago when UX was coming on the scene to fix that.

Some choice quotes:

Good design should be attractive, pleasurable, and wonderful to use. But the wonderfulness of use requires that the device be understandable and forgiving. It must follow the basic psychological principles that give rise to a feeling of understanding, of control, of pleasure. These include discoverability, feedback, proper mapping, appropriate use of constraints, and, of course, the power to undo one’s operations. These are all principles we teach elementary students of interaction design. If Apple were taking the class, it would fail.


Worse, other companies have followed in Apple’s path, equating design with appearance while forgetting the fundamental principles of good design. As a result, programmers rush to code without understanding the people who will use the products. Designers focus entirely on making it all look pretty. And executives get rid of user experience teams who want to help design the products properly and ensure the products are made usable during the design phase, not after manufacturing, coding, and release, when it is too late. These uninformed company executives assume all this up-front design research, prototyping, and testing clearly must slow down the development process. Nope. When done properly, it speeds things up by catching problems early, before coding even begins.

There’s a lot more; it’s not just click bait. It’s kind of a Usability 101, even mapping how Apple’s guidelines have removed certain UX principles (e.g. discoverability) over the years.

Read the full article at FastCompany.

Apple UX Pioneers on How Apple is Destroying Design

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