Actually, I think both the worst and the best designers think their users are like them. It's just that the best ones are right.
They can predict it because they've watched the floor manager interact with past products in the usability lab dozens of times.
And because they have watched that person dozens of times, they know that even thought they can predict extremely well how that person will react, they know they have to run tests anyway, because the best designers know how often they've been surprised in the past.
The best designers have a great mental model of their users, and know when to use it.
The worst designers just use themselves as a model of their users, and their designs are accordingly screwy.
Apple don't do any kind of usability testing in any normal sense.
They build products they want themselves and then they see what happens. The feedback they get back from that is the feedback they use.
Obviously they use their own judgment and market feedback as well, but the notion that they launch products without testing them first is crazy.
They are just not testing them in any normal sense.
I.e. they don't invite users to test it in usability labs or any other typical test environments.
I still deal with this issue working with techies who have iPhones and develop on iPhones. There are 100,000 iOS developers. 120 million iOS devices. So Mr Platt may be correct about developers in general, but he certainly got it wrong about Apple.
I must disagree that the best designers are like their users. The best designer is someone who can design a user interface for 120 million. Yet most iPhone users can't. It takes a different mindset to design a UI than to use it.
What I can't forgive is quoting your own made-up "laws" like you've discovered deep truths about the natural world...
"Because [Apple's] designers forgot Platt’s First, Last, and Only Law of User Experience Design ('Know Thy User, for He Is Not Thee')" -David Platt
He was also wrong about the volume controls as comments above show.
That said I don't blame him for his third point. I think a lot of people (myself included) were suprised at how little tactile feedback is missed on the iPhone.
If you are sending tons of emails from your phone, then yeah, the physical keyboard blows the onscreen one out of the water. But when you are running a dozen apps with completely different functionality, but all of them are fairly simplistic, a touch-screen (especially a good one) does a better job on average, as compared to a keyboard where you quickly descend into the buttons being meaningless ala Nokia endless 2-button menu navigation.
Now obviously you can have both (I bought a G1 back in '08 and I like having both), but it took balls for Apple to make that decision and say that a touchscreen only would be sufficient. However the impact of that decision on the elegance of the form factor is undeniable, and something that I imagine had a large if unmeasurable impact on the success of the iPhone. It's the type of thing that you need a product visionary at the top to achieve, otherwise it's DOA at the first board meeting.
Touch screens may turn into a technology that's omnipresent although "educated" consumers try to avoid it (like glossy laptop screens or high-megapixel cameras with tiny sensors)
I've used iPhones and Touches, yet to get hold of an iPad but this definitely hasn't been my response. It generally reacts fast enough to not need tactile response. Generally. I suppose when it goes wrong it's disastrously annoying for end-user experience.
Seems that the author was really looking for a promotion vehicle for his book and looked to take a big product launch like the iphone and use it to his advantage.
Everyone that bought the book based on this ridiculous article should get their money back like everyone that bought a mini vanilli album (I might be dating myself).
So on the one side I don't know who this guy is, why I should have cared about his opinion back then... but at least now I know not to touch on of his books with a 10 foot pole... exactly because of the reason you explained.
AAPL on June 21, 2007 - $123.9 a share
AAPL on September 4, 2010 - $258.8
I certainly avoid making such statements, as I cannot bear the thought of my advice destroying the wealth of the people close enough to me to listen to me.
I still can't quite understand why you keep hearing people who could predict nothing (say many economic "experts" or technology "analysts") and journalist still go to listen to their prediction like they are Delphi's Oracle.
2. Stock dips, buy as much as you can.
3. Wait 3 years.
Which makes sense. He's got that fantastically wrong sense of intuition in design that makes someone come to all the wrong conclusions with the data; the kind of person who couldn't see the iPhone was a Big Deal in UX. This means he's a great fit for the Microsoft UX base, because he can tell them what they want to hear.
P.S., I suppose this statement will anger people and they'll furiously hit the down arrow next to this comment, but I don't care. Having worked in Microsoft, I can assure you that the people who succeed in MS UX roles are the people who tell middle management what they want to hear (while the upper management and actual engineers watch helplessly).
Perhaps he was writing for Microsoft then too??
Between the shills and those just after page hits, there sure are a lot of articles not worth the paper they could have been written on. It's funny seeing the guy cite himself though.
Pity the iPhone is so hard to use and lacking that keyboard. People with the urge to hit control-alt-F7 obviously weren't consulted. And his point about multiple functions... Perhaps he figures there's still a market for dedicated word processors or something.
Interestingly, the OP post suffers from the problem he accuses the iPhone of. He says "you're not your customer, don't design the product for you" and then laments the iPhone because it doesn't fit what he thinks a phone should be.
Or you can just double-click the button on the earbuds. One-hand, no eye operation.
On the other hand you can cut the guy some slack since he made these predictions before release. It's actually quite a bit more embarassing when you hear an interview from Ballmer in 2010 floundering around trying to stick to his talking points about how an iPad is still a PC, and PCs will come in many form factors, etc.
Comments like this are revealing.
Since you stole my headliner, I'll post a few other false or highly questionable remarks that would have had me dismissing this as shallow linkbait as early as 2007:
"...crash in flames the way Apple’s late and unlamented Newton did, only much more loudly and publicly because of all the hype it’s gotten" (the Newton was just as widely hyped at the time)
(about the iTunes store) "You could listen to the whole song before you bought it, not just a small clip." (the opposite of the truth)
"Consider the case of an airline passenger relaxing in her seat, eyes closed, iPod mini hung around her neck with a cord, or maybe just lying in her lap -- the very picture of relaxation. Suppose she wants to skip forward or back in the song list. She just presses the forward or back button....Now think of the same thing with in iPhone, which doesn't have separate forward or back buttons, just an icon on a touch screen. The user has to interrupt her blissful reverie, open her eyes..." (or she could double-click or triple-click the headphone cord)
(And, back to the original point, I own at least a dozen albums made since Abbey Road worth listening to in their entirety--in fact, each of them is more worth listening to in their entirety than Abbey Road itself, in my opinion, and one was even produced at Abbey Road Studios!)
Not better than Abbey Road, but definitely worth listening too in whole.
Apple, I think, overcame a lot of the usability issues this guy was afraid of by carefully designing the OS and software to be as user-friendly as possible.
I think Android still has quite a ways to go before the OS is capable of producing the same level of simplicity and elegance as the iPhone.
Note: I've only used an iPhone in passing. My phone is an Android
> First, the iPhone ignores the main reasons that the iPod succeeded: simplicity and ease of use. The iPod is very easy to play and very easy to load, much more so than any other device had ever been. Even more important, the online ITunes store made buying music much simpler and easier than it had been. You didn’t have to drive to the store, you didn’t have to even wait for the UPS man to deliver a CD from amazon. You could listen to the whole song before you bought it, not just a small clip. And you could buy individual songs that you liked instead of having to buy a whole CD of mediocre gunk to get those one or two good songs. (There hasn’t been a packaged album side worth listening to the whole thing in order since Abbey Road.) You didn't have to carry the CDs around with you and change them and worry about losing them. The iPod was a success not because it made complex and sophisticated things possible, but because it made simple things (listening to the music that you liked) simpler and easier than they ever had been before. The iPhone is doing the opposite.
I have highlighted the only section in which he lists complaints against the iPhone with respect to simplicity and ease of use.
And by reasonable, I mean "still wrong, but understandable at the time."
Usability and simplicity isn't why a product succeeds, it needs to be understood in context with engineering, marketing, luck, timing and so many other things.
The iPhone succeeded because at the time it was such a fresh breath of air.
What Apple realized was that you can't extend the current desktop metaphor to the mobile screen.
So yes certainly usability have much to do with it. But factors such as control over the user experience also had a lot to do with it.
In other words, apple could probably have done a worse job and still be successful because they controlled everything on the phone.
And obviously the ecosystem have been a huge factor just as it was for the iPod.
[...] Now the iPhone. When it hits the streets I guarantee it will sell like hot cakes (though not to you or me!). It is the must-have yuppie accessory of the decade. I predict they will sell millions of the things before anyone even stops to evaluate what they have actually bought.
first day: massive queues ==>
Everyone on the net: "This is meaningless: they are just the Apple drones following their Apple master's orders"
first month: still in high demand ==>
Everyone on the net: "Sure, it's going fine now. But wait until all the Apple zealot have got one and then demand will collapse"
first year: still in high demand ==>
Everyone on the net: "Of course it's a good design, but I may as well buy X from company Y that will only come out in Z months: it's going to completely kill the iPhone. Anyone who is not a zealot will get one".
The common theme is that from day one people dismiss Apple gadgets as something that will only appeal the yuppies or the zealots. They said the same of the iPod. But they ended up selling more than 250 million iPods and something like 100+ million iOS devices (though there's a slight overlap between the two groups).
At which point do those that buy Apple gadgets stop becoming the minority of zealots/yuppies and _you_ become the minority?
The iPhone didn't have to be as easy to use as an iPod. It's competing against other phones, and only needed to be easier to use than those.
(In any case, I do find an iPhone easier to use than an iPod.)
His biggest mistake was not underestimating Apple, or it's potential customers.
His biggest mistake was ignoring how terrible every other smartphone offering to date actually was.
Certainly there have been plenty of well built and designed "phones" but the smartphone offerings were and have always been mostly painful experiences for end users.
There was always a massive compromise that greatly effected usability.
The iPhone chose a different set of compromises and I dare say it was a pretty spot on decision (in retrospect).
is like saying
"... people watching moving picture films will reject the experience due to its lack of olfactory feedback ..."
Still waiting on that smell-o-vision...
i can type with like 70% accuracy without looking on the iphone, with 1 hand
"No wireless. Less space than a nomad" all true, like "no tactile response," etc were / are.
The complete package and ecosystem have made iPods / iPhones compelling.
And the firm belief on taco's and diego's parts that this "senselessness" would be clear were just clearly - in hindsight - wrong.
I do give the guy credit for making a call though, just not sure I'd buy his book.
I'd have to say that as far as simplicity, iOS seems to be the leader right now (maybe not the most powerful/customizable though), in comparison to RIM/Android.
All this proves is the best strategies and ideas are usually written after the fact. Once something works, it gets celebrated, becomes a best practice, becomes a subject of books, and companies with no interest in creativity assume they can copy them and succeed.
It'll be interesting to see if they can extend their wins into a new realm like with their social network - ping. That would be a testament to the firm's brilliance.
I don't think Ping is a major product for them, I'm pretty sure that it's more a feature like Genius playlists or iTunes LP. I might be wrong here, but I don't get the feeling that they're trying to enter social networking as a realm. Just like MobileMe still hasn't been Apples big entry into cloud computing, it's just a nice add-on feature.
Apple got successes because they didn't shun risk. Often they got it right (e.g. the iMac, dropping the floppy, etc...). Others they got it wrong (e.g. the Mac cube, and their adding DVD players instead of CD-RW back when you couldn't have both easily).
But if you don't risk you get nowhere. Sony used to take risks... sadly not so much now (apart from the play station, but they got so burnt with the PS3 that I doubt they'll try again). I miss more gutsy companies.
He also makes the mistake that the iPhone would be about music even though it was clealy a step backwards in terms of the capicity (4 and 8gb) and the controls as he points out. It was clearly designed for the Internet, Apps/games and video - though that is easier to see in hindsight.