What's new

How Apple/Google/Microsoft Are Giving Design A Bad Name


Super Moderator
Staff member
I think this article hits a lot of good points and they apply to more than just Apple.

The article is actually titled How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name
However, if the shoe fits...

Ref: https://www.fastcodesign.com/3053406/how-apple-is-giving-design-a-bad-name

Although the products are indeed even more beautiful than before, that beauty has come at a great price. Gone are the fundamental principles of good design: discoverability, feedback, recovery, and so on. Instead, Apple has, in striving for beauty, created fonts that are so small or thin, coupled with low contrast, that they are difficult or impossible for many people with normal vision to read. We have obscure gestures that are beyond even the developer’s ability to remember. We have great features that most people don’t realize exist.

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.

Today’s iPhones and iPads are a study in visual simplicity. Beautiful fonts. A clean appearance, uncluttered by extraneous words, symbols, or menus. So what if many people can't read the text? It’s beautiful.

What kind of design philosophy requires millions of its users to have to pretend they are disabled in order to be able to use the product?

Touch-sensitive screens, especially on relatively small devices, offer multiple opportunities for things to go wrong when an active link or button is accidentally touched. These accidental touches move the user to a new destination. The standard, simple way of correcting for these occasional mis-touches is to have a Back control: Android phones have Back built into the phone as a universal control that is always available. Apple does not. Why? We don’t know. Were they trying to avoid having a button or a menu? The result does provide for a clean, elegant visual appearance, but the simple-appearance mask is deceptive, for it increases the difficulty of usage.

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.


other companies have followed in Apple’s path, equating design with appearance while forgetting the fundamental principles of good design.

The new generation of software has made gigantic leaps forward in attractiveness and computational power while simultaneously getting harder for people to use.

Today’s Apple has eliminated the emphasis on making products understandable and usable, and instead has imposed a Bauhaus minimalist design ethic on its products.

Unfortunately, visually simple appearance does not result in ease of use, as the vast literature in academic journals on human-computer interaction and human factors demonstrates.

Apple products deliberately hide complexity by obscuring or even removing important controls. As we often like to point out, the ultimate in simplicity is a one-button controller: very simple, but because it has only a single button, its power is very limited

Simple appearance can make control more difficult, more arbitrary, require memorization, and be subject to multiple forms of error.

The Missing Principles
The most important principles largely or completely missing in iOS are discoverability, feedback, recovery, consistency, and the encouragement of growth:

Dieter Rams And The Minimalists’ Rationalization
Many of the worst of Apple’s hidden principles are often excused by claiming that Apple is only following the teachings of the famous German designer Dieter Rams, who for many years was responsible for the beauty and understandability of the products of the German company Braun. They specifically cite Rams’s 10th Principle: "Good design is as little design as possible" (Vitsoe, 2015). But note that this is his 10th Principle, not his 1st. It might be rewritten as, "If you’ve followed the first nine principles, well, it’s time to stop. Don’t start cluttering things up." Apple, however, has violated many of those earlier principles. Here are all 10 principles of good design:

  1. Innovative
  2. Makes a product useful
  3. Aesthetic
  4. Makes a product understandable
  5. Unobtrusive
  6. Honest
  7. Long-lasting
  8. Thorough down to the last detail
  9. Environmentally friendly
  10. As little design as possible

many good points to read in the article... and in many ways wherever it says Apple you can insert Google or Microsoft.
Last edited:
I agree with this but I think its the demands of consumers and the market that have worked against this and made it difficult for all the companies to achieve the utopian view that the author aspires to. You have one group of people arguing usability and another group arguing functionality.

iPad Pro as a case in point. There would be many here that would argue that it's not functional enough to compete with a Surface Book, and yet, it would (through lack of functionality) be more usable for than a Surface Book. Put a toddler on both and they would get to grips with the iPad faster. Put a desktop worker on both and they may not be able to achieve the desired outcome on a iPad Pro.

Functionality comes with compromise and you can't necessarily have both. On the issue of gestures, I don't use many of them a lot but there is a generation of young people who love them. How do companies and developers accommodate both? Its not easy. There are those that argue for the windows button, and those who argue against it, it's the challenge of familiarity and innovation as well.

So yes, it's easy to sit back and argue about usability and good design, but in a technology driven world where the market demands new technology every year, that's not always achievable and failure to release products to meet demand also mean a likely loss in market share, because you are only as good as the last product you released. It's easy to sit back and criticise a failure to achieve good design, but a failure to produce a working solution as an alternative is harder. I could argue why my Football, Baseball, Cricket, Rugby (insert whatever sport) side isn't good enough and how people should be going back to basics but to actually produce a winning team is far under today's demands is actually far harder, because it adds the constraints of deadlines, budgets, requirements, etc.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Ok, most of your argument seems to centered around "demand" or popularity.

I'll give Apple a lot of credit for cleverly marketing their stuff to create demand. However, what if they were marketing something else. You see demand has nothing to do with design or quality or quality of design or any of that stuff. They can make all the crap they want it doesn't change the fact that it's crap. You can convince people to buy crap that's just good marketing but it's still crap.

now on to that something else... what it they were marketing news that wasn't really news but more like voyeurism where they shove a mike and camera in front of someone and exploit their emotions because people love watching this stuff OR they were marketing porn because there is insatiable demand. You see crap is crap regardless of demand.