The of course principle of design

John Gruber today writes about Apple’s highest priority being obviousness. He was of course, remixing and extending the arguments made by Sebastiaan de With in his post, Simplicity and Obviousness. Their two blog posts reminded me of one of my earlier posts from early 2010, when I wrote about a documentary called Objectified. At some point in 2009, I met up with my good friend Christian Lindholm who works for design firm, Fjord. He turned me onto his of-course principle of design.

Most companies (including web startups), he said, are looking to “wow” with their products, when in reality what they should be looking for is an “‘of course’ reaction from their users.”

Puzzled, I looked at him. And then it hit me: Great design means that one look and the end user reacts by knowing what to do with a knob or a button, without as much as even thinking about it. Of course this knob is what turns the volume up, or brings up the home screen.

This of course factor is at the heart of every great design — from the iPhone to the Braun alarm radio. And it’s an important lesson that every startup and entrepreneur should remember. Whether your company is making a physical product or a web service or mobile application, it’s essential for you to think about design.


A letter from Om

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