NPR had a great story about the Mac turning 30 in which they talked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook. The story reminded me of why I am in usability and how innovative the Mac and Apple are/is. The Mac brought a user-centered interface to the users—a GUI (Graphical User Interface). When they designed it they wanted a computer that was:

  • For the people
  • Easy to use
  • Approachable
  • Extra computing cycle to make it easier to use (pictures on screen that allows more intuitive use
  • “More than a machine…. A work of art”

Before the Mac, the focus was not user-centered, it was function (or system)-centered. Apple brought computers to the greater people and embodied the user-centered design principle in a way previously not seen in computers. They had a diverse team: a drop out, a person in an MD PhD program, musicians, an artist, and an archeologist allowing for different perspectives and ideas from a diverse user group—instead of the normal computer scientists designing for computer scientists.

Tim Cook stated that “artifacts in our lives should be beautiful.” They used Tiffany’s as inspiration for the Mac. This beauty is one thing Apple excels at, and other companies are often way behind on—thus the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad…

These principles exemplify why I got into usability and the NPR story was a pleasant reminder of the best parts of my job.

As Tim Cook put it, “technology by itself is nothing.”

Links: Steve Henn “At 30, The Original Mac Is Still An Archetype Of Innovation” January 24, 2014.

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