15. Rich and Plain

I’ve saved the most conspicuous and controversial topic of software design for last: looks, appearance, aesthetics—how the pixels come together to create an image. Whether or not people recognize all the other work that has gone into the design of an app, almost anyone can glance at a screen and decide whether she likes the way it looks.

The overall aesthetic of an app is the most immediately apparent contributor to its personality. Just looking at what’s built in to iOS, on one hand you have Mail, Safari, and other standard-looking, understated apps. On the other, you have Calendar, Contacts, and other bold, adventurous apps. What makes them different? Why would Apple choose one style or the other?

You can measure apps along ...

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