10 Lessons on Design We Can Learn From Apple

While most companies follow design trends, Apple has a habit of creating them.  One of the largest electronic businesses on the market, and a pioneer in personal devices especially, it has become a powerhouse unlike any other seen around the world.

Apple has even sparked a revolution of copycats trying to find their own niche and establish themselves as competition.  That is why it is so easy to look at it and find lessons on how to design better and more desirable products.

Here are 10 tips we can glean from Apple that have become staples in design today.

#1: Simple Is Better

There is nothing I hate more than going to the sales or download page of a website and finding the entire thing crammed with brightly colored “BUY ME!” buttons and graphics.

All of it amounts to nothing more than an overly complicated, cluttered and tacky attempt to send you on a spending spree. It looks messy, it is in bad taste and it could be done so much better.

Simple Is Better

Apple’s homepage is a good example of how less is more. Rather than bombarding you with ads and products, it provides a clean spot to clearly see what a single item at a time can do for you. It is easy to navigate and much more relaxing than the bright orange craze of Microsoft’s page.

#2: The Ever-Useful Product Shot

The Ever-Useful Product Shot

Seeing is believing. Why read about a product when you can take a look at a photo and see it all for yourself, in action and on your computer screen? Apple is the king of product shots, each one showing off the latest in its high-tech line with mouth-watering detail.

What makes the product shot even more effective with Apple is the sleek look of all of its electronics. The company puts it up against a crisp, white background and lets the picture speak for itself. It always looks so tempting there, on the cutting edge of personal technology. When was the last time you saw a picture for the latest iPhone or Macbook and didn’t start salivating?

The trick is to make anything you are selling look that good, and you can. Just give it enough loving focus.

#3: Use Plenty of Contrast


Speaking of backgrounds, really utilize this tactic. If you have a black iPad, put it on a bright, white background with plenty of light shining from underneath. If it is a chrome iPhone, settle it against a black, satiny base. This is the element of contrast that really makes an Apple product stand out in photos.

Whatever you are pushing, you can make it look more dynamic by applying the opposite behind it. We as humans are meant to have our eyes attracted to such tricks, and it will stick in the mind.

#4: Don’t Go With “Good Enough.” Go With “Great”

Go With “Great”

It is easy to get tired of working and say, “Well, that is good enough.” This is a trap that Apple genuinely tries not to fall into, and Steve Jobs was notorious for being a nitpicker to the very end, making changes as much as a day before final release. That is one of the unique qualities that makes the company great.

The smallest detail on your site could be the one that makes all the difference. Take time to work everything out, making changes when needed and perfecting it all to the best of your ability. It will pay off –  trust me.

#5: Put the Flash Down and Back Away Slowly


Steve Jobs hates Flash, and you know why? It’s simple: It is buggy. How many times have you had Flash crash on you while watching a YouTube video or your browser freeze up because Flash suddenly stopped working? This is a common problem for everyone, and it is an issue that Adobe doesn’t seem too fussed with fixing.

Besides that, the truth is that Flash has not changed much in the past decade. There are still major issues, such as load time and a lack of significant updates. Since the introduction of coding like HTML5, it just isn’t really necessary anymore. Stick with something that allows for more flexibility and less frustration.

#6: Put on a Happy Face

Happy face

I know, I know … Apple? Friendly? Up until fairly recently, this would have been a concept that was hard to swallow for even the kindest and most enthusiastic Mac fan. In fact, it was always seen as a kind of techie cult, of which no mainstream application had evolved.

But that has really changed, and Apple has dedicated itself to being user-friendly and happy. Even Steve Jobs has seemed more approachable, clear up until his recent retirement from Apple. It was a major transformation that took everyone by (pleasant) surprise.

If Apple can seem friendly and happy, so can you.

#7: Apply a Strong Grid


Avoid clutter by using a grid on your site. Apple did this on its own, keeping the lines strict and then putting all information and links within those boundaries. No matter how much Apple stuffs into it, it still appears clean and readable, as well as attractive to look at.

You don’t have to follow the same grid design – you can make your own. But using a central portion for a larger ad, logo or image is a good idea, keeping with the boxed layout and then using border grid boxes for other parts.

#8: Make Visual Aids to Instruct Users

Visual Aids

Apple made a whole series of instructional aids for its site. The first was a set of pictures on different pages that shows how to better use its products, and the second was a series of videos that shows step by step how to best utilize apps, devices and more.

This is a great idea, because your users will just go somewhere else if you don’t have instructions, and the answers to their questions might not be correct. It also shows them that you care and can be useful beyond just the initial purchase.

#9: Provide Consistency


You can brand more than a name. Apple has become well known for its custom grid system on its website, iTunes and even Mac’s OS. You can also see the same general idea used on the iPad, iPhone and other devices running the iOS. It is a digital signature of sorts and immediately recognizable.

This consistency can help to establish your style and set you apart from others. Try keeping your websites and other items in the same style as your official page.

#10: Don’t Just Make a Mall


Of course, an e-commerce store will have the primary function of selling things to consumers and convincing them to buy other products as well. What else would it do? Actually, Apple has proven that it can provide a lot.

Instead of just making an endless store to trudge through, Apple offers full-color product pages with information on each. From there, you can learn the latest news and information. Then, you can go to the buying page, which is on a whole other area of the site. It is a clever way to give a little more than just another place to spend money.


Apple is a massive computer company with its share of ups and downs in the public eye. But there is no denying the intense improvements it has made in the past decade to become more than just a cult provider. It is now a megacompany that everyone looks up to.

You can learn a lot from Apple.

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