Apple’s ‘Jony Ive’ last week announced the seventh major iteration of their mobile software – iOS7. The announcement initially underwhelmed me (I’m not a massive fan of the four by five grid layout), but having had the beta installed for just over a week now it’s clear that this is a great, beautifully designed improvement over iOS6.
It was reported that ‘Ive’ tasked the marketing team with redesigning the icons for the native apps (email, iTunes, iPod, etc) which formed the foundation of the software’s new style. But was this the right move?
Was tasking a marketing team with software UI design the right move?
Well, I’m biased towards marketing, but it’s hard to deny that the new look from Apple is anything but beautifully designed. There’s a couple of reasons why I think marketing leading software UI design is a great idea.
Creative by nature, technological by nurture
Of cause I’m generalizing, but software and marketing professions exist predominantly in different environments – the former in a code-heavy habitat and the later in a design-focused abode. This means a couple of things – Whilst software engineers will tend to design within the remit of their coding knowledge, marketers will design freely of potential constraints, pushing the design further and hopefully resulting in a stronger end design. It’s then up to the coding wizards to figure out how the abstract designs work on a technical level.
Corporate branding at the core of every product UI design
No-one knows the corporate brand better than the folks in marketing. This deep understanding of the brand should be at the core of product design – This ensures consistency across the potential range of software but also gives a strong, approved foundation of which to design on. That being said, the brand should always sell the product, not the other way around.
Market research and external exposure
I hear a lot of “Yea, but Android has been doing that for years”, and yes, of cause, those people are correct. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If Apple didn’t incorporate a design aspect because a competitor had already beaten them to the punch then iOS would look very different today. The marketing team are experts at market research, seeking out what really makes a great product design and what competitors key selling points are. Taking key design cues from existing successful (competitor or otherwise) software will result in stronger design.