Thursday, August 16, 2012

Apple v Samsung: Design and the Culture of Make it Pretty

As crazy at it may seem, the Apple v Samsung trial has been some really enjoyable reading for me. In looking through some of the documents that have been published from the case, you can find some great stuff on what might be called 'the philosophy of product development'.

Here's another great post with documents from inside the walls of Samsung. All Things D has a nice summary article of the testimony of Galaxy icon designer Jeeyuen Wang. They also have this link to an internal presentation of their icon design strategy from 2011.

Basically, what you'll find in this presentation is that Samsung's design team developed a schema to establish coherence and elegant consistency to the icons that they used on their Galaxy products. If you read through this presentation, you'll find a design-centric presentation. Contrast that with the presentation I talked about in my previous post.

Clearly, what you have in the group designing their icon structure are people that understand design. At the same time, this wasn't something that ran through the entire product development process. Instead, the company appears to have gotten to a point where they through the software over the wall and said, "make it pretty." That's not an uncommon practice -- as anyone who has had to deal with design knows all to well -- but it points to the underlying differences between Apple's product and the copies.

"Make it Pretty" means that appearance is an afterthought. It's not integral to the why. Because they don't understand the subtle relationship between the look and the why.

So how many people do you think read the Steve Jobs book and decided to 'be more like Steve' -- but still adhere to the 'Make It Pretty' school of thought? At what point in their product development cycle do you think most people start to incorporate look and feel into the functionality? Sadly, I'll bet it's larger than you'd expect.

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