In 2008, a presentation by Apple's Senior Engineering Manager Michael Lopp at a South by Southwest conference ( provided some insight into the oft-mysterious design processes at Apple. They illustrated the extent of the care and thought that goes into Apple's products, as well as each individual feature. Although, given more limited resources and budgets, exactly adopting the following methodologies isn't practical for most companies, each of the insights does provide a glimpse into how Apple is able to foster unusually tight design decisions that, most of the time, work well both functionally and aesthetically.

  • Pixel-perfect mockups — By pixel-perfect, Lopp explained that for every interface feature or dialog, there was a mockup that could be deemed final. Though, admittedly, this would take an enormous amount of work and time up front, his reasoning was that it removes all ambiguity, and results in less reworking later on because of unseen additions or unclear direction. This does not mean mockups cannot then evolve as new features are added, or redesigned, along with product changes. However, at any given stage, they are ready with implementable, functional design.
  • 10 to 3 to 1 — As opposed to what Lopp explained was the more typical “seven to make three look good” approach to creating mockups, Apple's designers build ten uniquely functional and/or aesthetic mockups for any feature, pared it down to three, and then chose the strongest ...

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