Joyful Design, or, On Apple Products

I was raised to be a Windows fan; it was the only system people take seriously and where the “real work” happens. I believed this, in full, up until three weeks ago.

What happened three weeks ago? I began my summer internship, where I am expected to work on a MacBook (brand new!). A Mighty Mouse and a keyboard were provided. Just opening the boxes for these products had me oohing… the cardboard was so smooth! This was definitely one of those instances where Apple created a user experience through remarkable details. The smells, the feel, the way it was visually packaged… See Emily’s post on her love of the Apple packaging for more explanation.

Now to the little things that suggest I might defect to Apple Lovers Anonymous. I had the laptop on, and I plugged in the keyboard. It worked instantly. I turned to my co-workers in astonishment. “You mean I don’t have to restart for the keyboard to register?” Now, I realize this is true for all or many USB keyboards, but I’ve had bad luck in the past. Same thing happened with the mouse, which, by the way, plugged into the keyboard, so I didn’t have to sacrifice a USB port on the laptop. And get this, my Wacom Graphire 4 tablet worked instantly! Sure, I had to download a driver so that it configured to the screen size, but other than that, I didn’t have to worry about drivers, restarting, random error dialogs…

But the most remarkable detail so far, for me at least, is the log in dialog during start up. The screen is very simple. It lists all the users registered on the machine, and you can select your username and type in your password. One morning, when my fingers were fumbling, I typed my password incorrectly.

Lo and behold! On a Windows machine, the screen would have churned, trying to process this incorrect password, allowing me to think I was logging in when in actuality, I was about to have a little dialog box beep at me with a message that my password was incorrect. On the MacBook, the process was simple: the dialog box shook back and forth, the password text field cleared, and I was allowed to try again.

I mean it when I say I giggled, imagining the MacBook was shaking its head at me (perhaps sighing, even). I shrugged, tried my password again, and logged in properly this time.

This is what I mean about joyful design. Technically, I made an error and typed my password incorrectly. Rather than making me feel at fault, or stupid, the clever designers at Apple subtly told me I made a mistake, but hey, no worries, just try again. Remarkable details. Simple. Clean. I’m loving it.

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