Information and Insights from Sessions at SXSW in Austin, TX

Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Great Design Hurts

Posted: March 8th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Saturday, SXSW '08 | Comments Off on Blood, Sweat, and Fear: Great Design Hurts

Saturday, March 8th 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
John Gruber Raconteur, Daring Fireball
Michael Lopp Apple Inc

What is in the word “Design” – Deign, Sin, Sign

Good Design: The Mentos Box (the presenter used my of Mentos from Wikipedia!). It has a latch and it works well. This is one of those items where the design is invisible and it just works.

Design is a present – an unintentional discover you make
Gruber’s Present theory:
1. Open before Christmas
2. Open on Christmas – love the build-up
Apple designed for #2 – if you look online what other company do you see unboxing photos for?

OSX is framed by the Mac which is framed by the packaging which is framed by the Apple Store which is framed by the excitement of the keynote.

How does Apple do this?
screw up A LOT!
set the bar very high for themselves (pain fear blood)

-fear of design feedback
-fear of critics – there is no barrier to entry for design opinion for aesthetic things
-fear of ponies – people who want a pony something that is out of reach that they just want but can’t have – tough to deal with when those people have power over you.

Apple does pixel perfect mock-ups everything needs to look just right
10 to 3 to 1 – start with 10 (good!) designs down to 3 down to one – you get a lot of room to do the design then.

Paired Design Meetings:
1. Brainstorm (no rules)
2. Production (how it works)
3. The pony meetings where the bosses get in their 2 cents and help select the best mock-ups – get their opinions in there. It brings them into the meeting and into the project.


The better the design work, the less resistance there will be- NOT TRUE

“Better necessarily implies different” Different = Scary (something out of place notice and be worried of)
Comfortable is not great

It needs to be “exactly the same but better (different).” This doesn’t really make sense. How it it possible?

“Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.” -Paul Rand
the key is “try to” – you don’t create great design by trying to be original.

If you want something to look good in 20 years, project back 20 years and see if it would have looked good today.

We looked into the history of the IBM logo, UPS, and ABC logos by Paul Rand and the subtle differences between refreshes of those logos. You have to be able to say “no” and sometimes you have to be the bad guy. A designer is expected to be clever and people expect more. Are you willing to be called difficult? don’t compromise, don’t plea bargain.