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SIGIA-L Mail Archives: [Sigia-l] Mac-like design [WAS Re: Pink, revisited ]

[Sigia-l] Mac-like design [WAS Re: Pink, revisited ]

From: Will Parker (
Date: Thu Sep 13 2007 - 20:07:54 EDT

On Sep 13, 2007, at 2:49 AM, Andrew Boyd wrote:

> Is there some trend in design that can be attributed to Mac
> users/Apple fans that applies to web design? Are they bent in a
> particular direction that can be predicted/exploited?

Black. Brushed aluminum. White New Balance sneakers.

Screw the grid, I want a closeup on the product that shows the
freakin' precision workmanship of the battery cover! Now!

For those of you who love sci-fi B-movies, throw 'Johnny Mnemonic' in
the player and skip ahead to Johnny's soliloquy on what he wants from
life. Here's a link for those who can't carry nearly 80 gigs in their

I am a Mac user, and I want my shirts *laundered*... like they do...
at the *Imperial Hotel*... in *Tokyo*.

(Seriously. I'm a Mac user, and I always try the Imperial Hotel shirt
clause written into the contract. Also known as the extended warranty.)

Now, for web design, I'd say that translates into:

- showcase presentation of products and content,
- close attention to the purpose and focus of each page in the site,
- minimal distractions from the content currently on display, and
- minimal jargon.

For an example and a counter-example, take a look at the different
purchase experiences offered at and

The Helio site focuses on quality, clear product differentiation,
customer education, and a very simple, understandable purchase path.
They sell only four or five phones, each presented as an object of
vast and practical utility, understandable by anyone with half a
brain and common Zen savvy.

Their service plans, like those offered with the iPhone, are
differentiated along one axis. More money per month equals more
minutes per month.

One simple, enjoyable process, from entry to exit.

The Verizon site, offering an endless array of phones, plans, and
services, closely resembles Endless virtual aisles, zero
discernible product differentiation, poor customer education, and no
clear method of finding the phone that best fits the customer's
needs. You're on your own, baby, lost in catalog-land.

Details regarding a specific phone are surrounded by links to several
other phones, not because _the customer_ might want them, but because
the company got a deal on a thousand gross of the Econophone SXV-4913
last month and needs to move those suckers.

The result is a customer plagued by his own doubt and a site that
actively indulges second-guessing.

(As a special bonus, start looking at cell phones at and then let the page sit idle for ten minutes or
so. The interaction designers among you will thank me for the
fascinating design pattern you'll discover. Don't forget to click
through to the end with a five minute delay between each 'OK'. )

So, to repeat the Mac design principles in a different way:

- Focus on the details.
- Focus on what you're doing.
- Focus on what your visitors are doing.
- Know where you're going.
- Let your visitor know where you're leading them.
- Never distract the visitor from falling in love with the subject of
your site.


Will Parker

IA Summit 2008: "Experiencing Information"
April 10-14, 2008, Miami, Florida

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