Apple reminds us: Simplicity is hard

Apple’s iOS7 is a great indicator that simplicity is hard. If you’re befuddled by that statement, check out these designers reactions complaints. Now that we’re caught up…

While I certainly made a few jabs on Twitter, my initial reaction was purely based around, what I feel is, “amateur” design. I could care less about flat or skeuomorphic, neon or dull, rounded versus squared off. Those are aesthetic choices for the most part. Label it as you wish. Apple’s decision making reduced the extra noise surrounding iOS. Noise that at one point helped the non-technical folk better understand a new type of interface. iOS7 shows progression. Good on you Apple and any other product / site that does the same. The problem with iOS7 design flaws mostly lie in the backbone of great design: typography, contrast, spacial relationships, and continuity. Mark Boulton tweeted:

“One thing is true. When you remove the noise, your typography had better be good. Because it’s the foundation. It’s the thing.”

Nailed it. When you remove the clutter you’re standing face to face with what makes great design great. And we’ve come to only expect great from Apple. Not amateurish oversights. While I’m surprised to see Apple ship something that was not even a tad more refined, hopefully many of these issues will be addressed as iOS7 matures.

Beyond iOS7 and Apple directly, iOS7 is a great reminder to designers and clients that simplicity is hard. Users and clients hiring design services: you’re viewing the backbone of design and understand what makes great design great (or not so great). Something to think about the next time an email is written with something similar to “shouldn’t take too much time… we just need something simple.” Refinement takes time. Typography isn’t about which typeface looks great, rather which works great. Contrast and spacing help to not only to see more clear, but plays a role in tension and disconnect.

Hopefully, it also reminds us designers, at all skill levels, to refine and revisit our understanding of the important elements of design. Now that we have less time searching for the perfect texture, we have plenty of time to revisit our design principles forefathers.

Now where’s my copy of The Elements of Typographic Style?



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Brian Hoff
About Brian Hoff: Designer, Writer and Speaker

I’m a graphic designer living in Brooklyn, New York who loves creating compelling and useful websites and memorable interactions across the web. When I’m not designing I can be found writing, speaking and occasionally part-time teaching at colleges — all on the subject of design. I started this blog to share my passion and experiences with designers and clients. I'm most active on Twitter; say hello:


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