How to Design like Apple

Updated February 3, 2023 · 1 Min Read

Check out Online MBA's latest video to see Apple's design philosophy boiled down into five principles that any designer can leverage in their own work. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Steve Jobs was a notorious perfectionist. Apple engineers and designers went through hundreds of revisions on every prototype that made it into his hands. But Jobs' maniacal obsession paid off. No gadget on the market is as instantly recognizable nor as coveted as the latest iteration of an Apple product. The company's dedication to sleek design and intuitive, user-friendly technology has made each iPad, iPhone and Macbook launch an enormous success.

And how did Jobs and Apple do it? The company follows a set of simple but strict rules to ensure that every product meets Jobs' standards for clean and flawless design. First, design must complement and improve the product's usability, never detract from it. And of course, Apple's sleek and uncomplicated aesthetic must be reflected by every component of the product, no matter how small.

Apple's design philosophy sounds simple, but putting it into practice is more difficult. Check out Online MBA's latest video to see Apple's philosophy boiled down into five principles that any designer or brandmaker can leverage in their own work.

Video Transcript

When first released in 2012, the latest iPad sold at a rate of 694 iPads per minute during the first 72 hours. Apple has built a devoted following willing to wait in the rain for new iPhones and iPads because of their exceptional product design. Here are 5 rules for designing from the men behind Apple's biggest design decisions.

  1. "For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through," said Steve Jobs, late CEO and co-founder of Apple Inc. when referring to the design of Apple products. Rule #1 - Don't skimp on sections of design just because they aren't in the customer's main line of sight - high quality design is all encompassing.
  2. Referring to what design is, Jobs said, "If you dig deeper, it's really how it works." Rule #2 - Every employee in a company must truly understand what the product they're building is, how it works, and how it will benefit customers or society in order to get the design just right.
  3. When asked what makes a good designer, Jonathon Ive, Senior VP of industrial design at Apple Inc., says, "It is so important to be light on your feet, inquisitive, and interested in being wrong." Rule #3 - Good design is produced by people who are motivated by failures and optimistic about change.
  4. One of Steve Job's most well-known mantras was "focus and simplicity." Rule #4 - It's harder to design something that's simply beautiful, than it is to just stuff a product full of bells and whistles - but the market place is looking for clean, flawless, and operational design.
  5. "Our products are tools and we don't want design to get in the way," says Jonathon Ive. Rule #5 - Product design isn't meant to stick out like a sore thumb, but rather seamlessly integrate with a high quality product people come to recognize as an extension of themselves.

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