Nobody to say “no” to bad design?

Seth Weintraub, 9to5Mac:

Former Apple TV UI designer and “Professional Hobbyist, AppleTV” Michael Margolis went vocal on Twitter about the new Apple TV redesign last night. He says that Steve Jobs himself tossed out the new designs 5 years ago. He adds, “Now there is nobody to say ‘no’ to bad design.”

I call bullshit on his comment. As most of us know, such product development choices are rarely made at the last minute – people work on them for years before the final product is released. This means that most of the “recent” design decisions at Apple, with high probability, still went thru Steve. Steve’s absence from Apple will only influence Apple’s design maybe in something like 2 to 4 years.

Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for Steve to dislike something good only to return to it later (If I remember correctly, he first disliked the iconic “Think Different” ad campaign), or even to like something that pundits think is stupid (i.e. stitched leather).

The real thing is, even putting aside the whole issue of “Is the new Apple TV UI good or bad?”, that maybe Steve did first dislike the “new Apple TV UI”, but for variety or reasons still chose to use it. Maybe the reality of things was that any different UI that they tried was even worse – it’s easy to drew a stylish UI, but far more difficult to make it intuitive and easy to use. A “springboard like UI” with icons will be far more intuitive to people, than rows and columns of text… the UI is one of the reasons why iOS devices are so easy to pick up and use for first time users, so taking elements from it seems like a good idea.

In the end of the day, I personally think that the new UI is better than its previous iteration – it doesn’t require people to read thru all the text, giving them visual cues to help distinguish UI elements from the sofa. Keep in mind that Apple TV’s UI isn’t made for tablets or desktop/laptop computers – it’s made for TVs, so it will be used from a big distance, which will undoubtedly influence UI decisions.

Thoughts on tech