Innovative, elegant, anthropomorphic

What do you look for in a design?

A design of anything: website, hair dryer, car … you name it.

Yesterday I had to think of Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos attending an early unveiling of the Segway as I read that Jeff Bezos was investing in 37signals.

I posted a comment about it, and today, oddly enough, they posted an excerpt from the notes of that meeting.

But back to the design principles: what do they mean?

Innovative is unlike anything else. Different. New. The function of an innovative design is to make you sit up and take notice in an overcrowded world of unremarkable designs.

Many things could be innovative but not, unfortunately, elegant. You could design a pen in the shape of a cup and it would be innovative, but hardly elegant. Elegance has to do with grace, “fittingness,” and usability. It’s form and function.

Anthropomorphic designs are human designs. They’re extremely intentionally made for people, with people in mind, for people to use. They don’t make you do something that feels wrong; they encourage you to act and operate in ways that make sense, are simple, are natural … that are the holy grail of software applications: intuitive.

Put the three together, and it’s likely you’ll have a winner. It’s new, it’s beautiful, and it is easy to use.

I wonder what, if any, other design principles Steve Jobs follows. I’m guessing simplicity is one of them, although that might be embodied in elegance.

Any others?

[tags] design, segway, innovative, elegant, anthropomorphic, jeff bezos, steve jobs, 37signals, john koetsier [/tags]