15 Design Tips to Learn From Apple

by on 4th February 2010 with 140 Comments

There is no shortage of companies that follow popular design trends to appeal to a mass market. Much more rare is the breed of company that actually sets design trends. Today we’ll examine the techniques of a company that occupies the top of the design food chain: Apple.

Below you’ll find 15 practical ways to follow Apple’s example in creating beautiful interfaces.

#1: Keep it Simple


Take a look at Apple’s homepage and don’t think about what you see, but what you don’t see. I’ll give you a hint, it’s all over this site (no not this very site, click the link silly). The answer of course is visual clutter. A homepage is supposed to tell users everything about your company, to communicate all your product categories in detail, to list endless features, and to showcase your logo as big as possible. Right? According to Apple: wrong.

Apple’s homepage simply shows off their most recent work and provides you with a few easily understood categories to help you get to the information you want to see. Granted, odds are you aren’t designing for a remarkably ubiquitous company that needs no introduction. However, you can still use minimal but attractive design to increase usability.

Imagine you’re driving up to an airport. As you drive along you are simultaneously hit with five or six signs containing maps with the locations for everything from terminals right down to handicap accessible restrooms. The argument the map designer would make is that he gave you all the information you needed to get anywhere you wanted to go. You would no doubt quip back that his fault was in giving it to you all at once as you were driving by at 20 mph. Now imagine you are at Sky Harbor, Phoenix Arizona’s remarkably easy-to-navigate airport. As you pull in you see a sign that says “Hello, welcome to Sky Harbor. There are three terminals”. Then as you drive along, you reach more signs, each with a brief description of what airlines fly into each terminal and where to go for arrivals or departures. The feeling you get as you drive into Sky Harbor is “Wow, this is easy!”

Apple takes the same approach to interface design. Rather than hitting you with everything they’ve got in the name of usability, they use smaller bits of information to lead you to the place that holds the content you’re really after. Look at the site you’re working on and consider how you can break the complex information up into smaller pieces that the user won’t find overwhelming.

#2: Use Amazing Product Shots


One of Apple’s principle reasons for cutting back on superfluous graphics on their site is to really showcase what’s important: their products. Just look at the shots they use; it’s nearly impossible to look at a page on the Apple site and not have your eyes focus on the products for seconds on end.

There are several things that make these products look so incredible. The first is that they are obviously pristine. Chalk this one up to digital imaging experts. I haven’t seen exactly how they do it, but the combination is likely a mixture of photography, 3D modeling (take your pick: Modo, Lightwave, Maya, etc.), and of course, Photoshop.

The next thing they do is to make them take up a huge portion of the page. If you spend hours making a beautiful package shot and then size it down to a thumbnail, it’s simply not as overwhelmingly impressive. Notice that Apple also frequently includes multiple products arranged in an attractive way as in the picture above.

The lesson here is to not just take a photo of your product and call it a day. Spend the time to make it look fantastic. Whether it’s a can of refried beans or a Lexus, do your best to make a great hero shot.


Don’t believe that you can make your non-tech product look as good as Apple stuff? Check out We Shoot Cans as proof that a talented artist can make any product look good.

#3: Contrast is Key


Another thing that makes those Apple product shots look so darn great is the simple environment they drop them into. The human brain loves contrast. It’s the reason we stare at mountain ranges and the horizon over the ocean. It’s also the reason we say “oooooohhhh” when we see a black shiny iPhone on a flat white background. You should seek to apply selective contrast in every single design you create. Look for opportunities to use contrast with color, size, font thickness and anything else you have to work with.

Apple doesn’t just apply contrast to their product shots. Take a look at the pic above and think about what jumps out at you. It’s probably the big blue download button. Cruise around Apple’s site and you’ll see that nearly every time they want you to do something (buy, download, etc), they use a bright blue button to grab your attention.

#4: Sweat the Small Stuff


Apple is all about attention to detail. Every little piece of their site is finessed into perfection. Never fall into the trap of saying “no one will notice” or “good enough.” It is often the margin of time spent on the tiniest details that separate the good designers from the great ones.

Don’t buy into the small stuff argument? Check out the social media logos on the Microsoft Office homepage and tell me that they don’t make you cringe.


I personally possess vector files of each of these logos. Now if I can do it, don’t you think the Microsoft designers could’ve taken the time to track down better versions of these logos to avoid the sloppy Photoshop Magic Wand selection they’ve got going on? I challenge you to find something this poorly done anywhere on Apple’s site, much less on the landing page of one of their most popular pieces of software.

#5: Avoid Flash


I’ve never been one to join in with the Flash hater crowd, but the fact is, that crowd is growing. Leading the masses is none other than Apple CEO and world-renowned technology clairvoyant Steve Jobs. Check out this excerpt from a recent Wired article:

“About Adobe: They are lazy, Jobs says. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy, he says. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash, he says. The world is moving to HTML5.” (Source)

Those are strong words from a man revered for leadership in the tech world. To be honest, much of what he says rings true. Online Flash content certainly isn’t the most reliable technology out there and is highly dependent upon extra software and up-to-date plugins that the user may or may not have. Further, HTML5 and CSS3 are glimpse into a future where you can accomplish a richly interactive multimedia experience with with simple, standards compliant code.

As a developer, if you join Apple in their virtual Flash boycott, you probably won’t regret it. You don’t even have to take an active stance against Flash so much as simply avoid using wherever possible. You’re pretty much guaranteed to have a lot less headaches from users who can’t view your content.

#6: Make It Friendly


For years, Apple was branded as a cult that was anything but friendly. They’ve really sought to purge this idea in recent years by restructuring their image to be more approachable. The most noticeable place you see this is in the “Get a Mac” ads. The Mac is portrayed as an every day kind of guy while the PC is the “out there” business man who’s always up to no good. Subliminally, these commercials are saying that Apple is really an open community and anyone from teenagers to grandmas will fit right in.

Another thing they’ve done is improved their formerly abysmal tech support record. Now anyone in a major city can just make an appointment at the Apple store for a free one-on-one consultation to address any problems and/or questions customers might have.

All of these techniques are reinforced by graphics of friendly, smiling faces. Currently the Apple store near me has about a dozen cardboard cutouts of Apple employees in the window as if to say “come on in, we’re happy to help.” You can also spot these smiling employees in a few places on the Apple website as shown in the pic above.

What Apple is doing is forming a balance between amazing but non-personable technology-based design and approachable smiling faces. No matter what you’re selling, consider whether it’s appropriate to make it look more friendly and think about what you can do to get it there. Even a simple “Hello” in a headline can go a long way.

#7: Use a Strong Grid


The picture above speaks for itself. Every page on Apple’s site adheres to a strict grid structure; whether simple or complicated, it’s there. The purpose? Check out how much information they’re throwing at you on the page above. There is simply a ton going on, but it somehow seems attractive instead of overwhelming.

Breaking sporadic information up into manageable cells drastically reduces visual clutter and confusion. Notice that each cell also contains a visual reference to accompany the text description. These visual references all look very similar and fit into the overall Apple theme. Even if you’re using stock images, try to maintain a similar theme so there’s no visual disparity in the pictures scattered all over the page.

#8: Create Instructional Aids


To reinforce the message that the top of the mouse is actually a multi-touch surface, Apple created the above illustration. Even without the headline, nearly anyone would be able to comprehend what’s happening in the picture and consequently understand how to use a brand new piece of technology that they’re completely unfamiliar with.

Apple goes even further than illustrations though. Nearly every piece of hardware and software on their site has an accompanying video that shows you how it works. This goes a long way to reduce tech support questions. I frequently refer my friends (who have all converted to Mac because of me and therefore see me as free tech support) to these videos because they provide a much richer and easier to understand experience than a phone conversation ever could. Check out Apple’s library of instructional videos to see how great they are for yourself.

#9: Be Consistent


The pic above is a screenshot of the iTunes store. Look familiar? If you’re thinking it looks a lot like Apple.com, you’re right. Now have a look around Mac OS X, specifically in the Finder. Again we see strong grid-based design, lots of white, metallic textures, and blue as an attention grabber (in selections). And finally, have a look at the full Apple line of hardware to see these textures and design elements brought into the real world.

Apple’s general look or “brand essence” is applied across every single thing they design. It’s quite stunning when you realize how much their software actually looks like their hardware. How much more integrated can you get? If you’re ever tasked with the job of developing a brand, look at every aspect of the company from televised ads and websites on down to the products themselves. Consider how you can integrate all of these disparate elements to look like individual pieces of a cohesive whole.

#10: Not Just a Big Store


Apple is a great case study in a successful e-commerce site. Notice that the entire site is bent on influencing you to buy, and educating you about, their products. However, the site doesn’t feel like one big store.

What I mean by this is illustrated in the screenshots above. The top shot is the dedicated Time Capsule page. Apple loves making beautiful product pages with clever headlines informing you of how great their products are. Notice that this technically isn’t the “store.” If you click the buy button, you are then taken to the page in the second screen: the actual online store. Here Apple has completely stripped down the visual appeal and focused on usability. They give you the information you need without distractions and make it easy to purchase an item in a few clicks.

If you’re making a online store, your first idea will probably be to do just that: build a store. If you have the time, budget, freedom, etc., consider building a website to showcase the items in the store in a way that simply wouldn’t be efficient in the store itself. Create beautiful dedicated pages that really boost your product and include a “buy now” link that takes customers to the visually boring but highly practical store section of the site.

#11: Be Confident


Let’s face it, Apple products are pretty amazing. Click around Apple’s site for a few minutes and you’ll find they aren’t exactly humble about this. Their headlines are filled with adjectives like beautiful, powerful, fun, revolutionary, easy-to-use and advanced. Their product descriptions inform you that the item is the best thing available in its category. If you overanalyze it, this may sound a bit haughty. However, as a casual visitor, you would probably just be impressed.

Whether your website is advertising a product, service, or simply an idea, don’t sell yourself short. Never use the word “good” when you can say “great,” never say “attractive” when you can say “beautiful.” If you are confident in your product, really strive to communicate it to your visitors. You’ll find that it will rub off on them and that they will generally have a much more positive first impression if everything on your site is focused on convincing them how great you are.

Like anything, there is of course a breaking point. Have someone not involved with the site read over your copy to make sure you aren’t pouring on the self-praise so thick that it becomes an annoyance.

#12: Put Legal Copy in it Place


This one is small but important. If you’re working for a company big enough to have a legal department, you know that the people in legal departments work really hard to prove that they aren’t worthless. Usually what this means is that you as a designer create something, send it to the legal department and get back a 500 word document full of extra content you are required by law to include. Inevitably, cursing ensues.

What you do with this content is important. Consider whether or not it’s information that the user actually wants to know or if it’s just an evil necessity that no one will ever read. If it’s the latter, take a page out of Apple’s book (a bite out of the Apple so to speak) and throw it at the very bottom of the page in a small but readable font that doesn’t contrast with the background too much. Your primary goal as an employee should be to make this content accessible, findable and readable. However, your goal as a designer is to make sure it doesn’t screw up your design by filling it with unimportant clutter.

#13: Comprehensive Footer Site Navigation


Check out the footer in the screenshot above. Apple has transformed the bottom of each page into an extremely helpful navigation tool. This is a great way to reduce the difficulty of navigating a large site. Rather than filling their primary navigation with a link to every section on the site, they’ve reserved it for general categories. Within a category, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page you find a much more comprehensive site map in the footer.

Notice they haven’t gone out of their way to make it stick out. It’s enough that you can spot it if you’re looking for something but subtle enough that you don’t give it a second glance if you don’t need help with navigation.

#14: Create Beautiful Custom Icons


With the introduction of OS X, Apple brought icons into a whole new realm. Since then stunning icon design has flooded operating systems and spilled over onto the web. However, there are a few free icon sets online that have reached such fame that they’ve become cliché.

So before you go downloading a set of icons that looks like everything else on the web, give it a go yourself. Fire up Photoshop and/or Illustrator, dust off those drawing skills and make yourself some great custom icons. In the end they’ll really polish off your site designs. As you master the art of good icon design you’ll notice that you are a lot less dependent on third party art to produce amazing sites (which is a really good thing). If anything, you’ll save those crazies in the legal department from trying to figure out the legal restrictions on all those “free” icons.

#15: Interactive & Dynamic Content


Nearly every page of Apple’s site contains an automatic slideshow, an animated accordion menu, a video, or an interactive photo gallery. The goal here is to keep the attention of the user. Static content can be a little on the boring side and can cause a user to vacate the site in search of something more interesting. Apple keeps your attention by giving you lots of pages with constantly changing content or bits of interactive features.

This kind of content should be approached with extreme caution for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s easy to leave over half of your visitors behind if you’re programming in features that require a special plugin. Try to stick to widely supported technologies that work across multiple browsers. Also, it’s really easy to get carried away with dynamic content. There’s an extremely fine line between eye-catching and annoying and you absolutely must learn where that line falls. Otherwise you give visitors a headache in place of the good impression you were going for.

One More Thing…

To sum up, Apple Inc. is pretty much synonymous with classy design. There’s a lot we can learn from observing these great designers at work that goes way beyond just ripping off the cool reflections they put on everything. The tips above are meant to be generally applied to your own work in a unique way. Use them as inspiration to blaze your own path in great site design.

Any time someone mentions Apple there’s bound do be evangelists and haters, eager to share their undying love or profound hatred of Apple’s design methods. Use the comments below to tell us which one you are. Are you all for minimalism mixed with glossy icons or are you sick of the web looking like a bunch of Apple wannabes? We want to hear your thoughts.

Comments & Discussion


  • http://elitebydesign.com Brian Lovin

    Apple’s design style, I feel, has been emulated and replicated more in the last three years than ever before. People are recognizing the subtle beauty behind everything with an Apple logo.

    Great post and wonderful insight into why Apple’s design techniques just “work.”

  • Joshua Johnson

    Thanks Brian!

  • http://www.nicoleflothe.wordpress.com Nicole

    Such an inspiration of Marketing. Loved your article and read the headers for now. I will have to enjoy the whole article later tonight. You also have a simple layout. Great Job.

  • http://www.sorelmihai.ro Sorel Mihai

    Great article, we thank you and Wilson Miner!

  • http://www.freedomstudios.co.za Graham

    This is a fantastic article!

    I must say that the points that you have highlighted are really valid and worth application in our projects.

    I have been a PC user all of my life and am hoping to soon transition to Mac – I have a good feeling that I won’t look back.

    But in terms of design I think Apple have hit the nail on the head, time and time again.

    Thanks again for the great post!

  • Niclas Lindgren

    Very nice reading even though I don’t agree to everything said.

    I think Apple has a tendenancy to be too grey and dull, almost cold, it is rather depressing at times. It is almost like walking into a hospital that has been fully sanitized for optimal cleaness, not too enjoyable place to be. There is no personality in it, however stylish it is.

    They make some very stylish things though, but sometimes it feels like just because its made by Apple it is stylish, I’m not taking that pill.

  • Vic

    In terms of user/consumer manipulation, Apple is definitely at the top of the heap.

    I think the only real problem I have with Apple is this notion that form > function. Because while Apple does make very good looking hardware, software, etc. They tend to generally under perform when compared to their peers.

    Often times it seems as if their devices/software are gimped on purpose, so that they have greater control over how you utilize your purchase.

    For me Google is a company that is just as user friendly as Apple(minus the generally useless eye candy) but far more focused on overall function than manipulation.

  • http://bodieleonard.com Bodie Leonard

    Interesting list but as a flash developer #5 hurts. There are a lot of good developers that create amazing and useful flash apps without bugs. Its those sweat shops that turn around ad campaigns daily that give flash its buggy bad name.
    But I as well am a developer and will embrace the html5 invasion.

  • http://www.axis.co.uk axisadman

    I think that HTML5 and Flash will co-exist, there is too many sites and too much investment in flash for it too disappear – even in the long term.

  • http://www.axis.co.uk axisadman

    I think that HTML5 and Flash will co-exist, there are too many sites and too much investment in Flash for it too disappear – even in the long term.

  • http://dgm-uk.com Max Brockbank

    Some people certainly are in a deep love affair with Apple and everything it produces; but that doesn’t logically follow that Apple is the pinnacle of design.

    While Apple seem to understand the need for good design, and that extends to their websites, for everyone to opt for Apple design would lead to a very dull internet. (Think about Chairman Mao’s safari suit – worn by millions who couldn’t wait to through it off for something a little less conformist).

    Good design offers plenty of scope for innovation and difference.

  • http://iboe.be Sander

    Nice article, sums up all good practices we should use on every website. That Microsoft Office 2010 site is really a big joke comparing it to Apple’s website.

  • http://www.matthewmooredesign.com Matthew Moore

    Great article Josh. Taking bits and pieces of Apple’s design language may work, but their real power is the fact that design is their culture. As designers, we never are in a position to change the culture of the business we’re doing work for. That is unless of course it’s our business we’re designing for :)

  • http://www.dailymixdown.com Mark

    Nice article. I am a huge fan of Apple design and agree with all your points!

  • http://syn-studios.net Matt Haydon

    Damn I just learned actionscript 3! Now its worthless?!

    I hope apple and adobe can work something out soon ;)

  • http://bango.learnless.info/ New York Web Design

    Nice Roundup.. Its fun to read… Apple is awesome..

  • Appsourus

    Great stuff. How do we get a PC to act more like a Mac?

  • Appsourus

    Try this http://smi.sh. Its a start.

  • http://stacyblackman.me Stacy

    Great article, Josh! I really enjoyed all of your observations, and think that most of them are just plain good web design principles in general. Also, nice pickup on the lousy social media icons on the Office home page.

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  • http://francissson.tumble.com Xian the scribbler

    Awesome post, really enjoyed it. Apple does make everything beautiful and perfect. Makes me wonder if everyone they hire is just super talented or what?

  • Mick

    I don’t understand why you used the Office 2010 website as an example? Apple’s website is aimed at designers first and foremost whereas the Office website is aimed at system admins and people who need all the information they can get regarding the product (granted it’s not an excuse, but I cant help but feel the OP trolled around to find the worst example possible).

    Should have used this website http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/ – at least it is somewhat closer to the target market (but is still irrelevant as it’s still aimed at selling software).

    If you really want to do a solid comparison you should square up Mac and Dell – they do an excellent job of presenting their product.

  • http://blog.pixelglimpse.com Rakesh Suryavardhan

    Mac is always inspiring for designers. Not just the site, but on everything they produce they keep the simplicity and beauty. It is a pride to have a Mac.

  • http://twitter.com/crganesh crganesh

    If I have to say in single word about this blog – “outstanding”.

    Wow.. You really did too much effort, time and excellent research about Apple.com.

    Thanks dude – its one of the best blog I read it in this year (Jan n Feb).

    Congrats dude, looking forward to your next piece of work..!!

  • agi

    Great article although i think #5 is slightly off track in that apple doesnt like the use of flash due to them wanting to keep control over what applications appear on thier devices.

    whether this is a good or bad remains to be seen.

  • http://graphicdesignblender.com Preston D Lee

    Excellent post! I think the most impressive and important is the attention to detail. So many times, we’re lazy or content with mediocrity. But you’re right, that’s what separates the good designers from the great ones.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • http://www.windyhilldesign.org/ heath

    Excellent article.

    I resist Flash because it causes browser crashes. NYTimes.com uses extensive Flash for ads and content, and FF crashes about 30% of the time, for me. Chrome keeps the pages running, and shows the crashed Flash divs — still not a super experience.

    Your focus on contrast as a major hook for keeping the eye engaged is conventional wisdom. Who am I to challenge that? Well, not me… but if you want to know why we really stare at certain things for hours on end, check Margaret Livingstone’s “Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing”. It’s on Amazon in paperback, but if you can find a used hardcover edition, it’s worth the trouble. It’s a gorgeous book in itself. But more to the point, Livingstone’s concepts will blow you away. Five year ago, I wrote two articles about how her ideas apply to web design. Last year, a couple of designers told me her principles are now being taught in some high-end design shops. Repeat, her concepts will blow you away. To start with, we have two vision systems, and one of them is color-blind… If you’re a designer and a geek, this book will revolutionize your comprehension about what makes design work.

  • http://www.csstinderbox.com Raymond

    While Apple does some things right I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say they are the pinnacle of design and everything they do should be followed.

    The reason why Apple’s look and feel seems so strong is not just because the design itself is “perfect” it’s because the power and legacy of it’s branding bolsters that design you see. And not to mention the cult-like following it has.

    You’re not seeing the design so much as you are feeling the strength of the Apple brand behind it.

    As far as the “Apple look” goes, please don’t forget Dieter Rams. Take a look at his work and you’ll see what I mean.

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  • http://designlovr.com DesignLovr

    Another great post!
    Very detailed analysis of Apple’s “Ways”.

    Clearly we can take a leaf out of Apple’s book, but we shouldn’t try to actually copy the visuals, but rather to apply the design and usability principles behind them – you did a great job listing exactly those, congrats!

  • http://manatt.us Steve Manatt

    I’m a fan of Apple’s style; however, I don’t worship it. They are masters at design and emotionally engage people with it, BUT emotion doesn’t pay the bills.

    Should we learn from them – sure, they are obviously doing something right. Should we worship them to the exclusion of other great technologies? Absolutely not! I’ve never experienced a crash with anything Flash. Now I don’t use a Mac, so perhaps that’s the caveat that needs to be made.

    Be objective. Be smart. Craft a solution that gives value to your client and stay away from useless debate over the keyboard used. It is you, not the tools you use, that make the difference.

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  • Appsourus

    There is something wrong if I can access my bank account faster on my iPhone than on my computer. I use my computer more often. Who can build/design an app for a computer?

  • http://www.mydailytop.com Jeremy Salmon

    Great post! Thanks !

    Simplicity is beautiful … but so hard to make.

  • Joshua Johnson

    Love all the interesting Flash input. I personally don’t develop with Flash all that much but admittedly love many sites that do. Where would we be without sites like http://www.homestarrunner.com?

    Apple’s Flash outrage could definitely be tied up in a lot of selfish motives. Great input all around!

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  • http://www.ingledow.co.uk/ David Ingledow

    A lot of blog posts that I’ve seen discussing Apple’s design style and how you can learn from it in your web designs, seem to have been about copying Apple. This post really helps you learn from Apple, rather than copy them!

  • http://www.chlitto.com chlitto
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  • http://smi.sh Appsourus

    THIS IS WHAT THEY SAY—Smish takes all your apps, friends, feeds, files, and favorite sites and smishes them together into one simple window. It’s compact bliss. Smish isn’t another social network, blogging tool, or bookmarking site. It’s a completely new digital creature that brings everything you do, both online and off, together.

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  • http://rodrigopolo.com Rodrigo Polo

    I agree that there should not be plug-in use in the website of Apple, just Apple, but they use QuickTime a lot and you know that not everybody has QuickTime and that it is most probable to find Flash plug-in than QuickTime plug-in. So my conclusion is “use plug-ins if you want, but beware of your audience usage of that plug-in”

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  • http://ertanmeric.com Ertan

    Great article, thanks…

  • http://night-fairy-tales.com/ SM

    Great tips. Thanks

  • EJ Kay

    Well, for the most part just a lot of self-serving, egotistical babbling. The Grid? Please, Apple has one of the most convoluted and irritating websites around. Does it look nice? Sure for the most part colors and contrast are good, it’s a branded website as far as ‘good design’ no, it’s not that great.

    The Flash comments are just laughable, please. I’m a Mac used, I have been for 12 years now. I don’t have issues viewing websites that contain Flash, or that are fully Flash based in construction if they’re done properly.

    Perhaps Apple should spend less time on trying to spread their brand on everything and fix Snow Leopard, you know, the busted O/S they just put out? Ya, try that okay?

    Or how about letting people know that 5th Gen Nano’s now don’t work with most high-end docking stations? Think maybe you might have mentioned you changed the pin configuration?

    Apple design… Please…… Are you kidding?

  • Peter


    Of course they’re awesome, it don’t matter what you compare with, Dell, Vista all those pages suck in comparison.

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  • Mick


    The worst thing about design is designers.

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  • http://smartuts.com adechriz

    I use PC now..hope I can buy mac soon..hehe


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  • http://www.twitter.com/ScottKilmartin Scott Kilmartin


    Nice piece, very timely for us as we’re redesigning our haul website and the points you raise nail it.
    Uncluttered and clean along with high end product shots are the key messages for mine.

    Thanking you.


  • http://creativemagz.com andrewbenardski

    Great article! This all make sense for me. Learn a lot from this, thanks!

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  • Ciprian

    Aviod Flash? FUCK OFF!!!

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  • The Truth

    This is ridiculous, apples design has become redundant and insanely played out in every way possible. Actual designers would never think of taking tips from the apple site.

    Obviously the person who wrote this post is a total hack. Stop treating apple like it’s some niche design firm, they make computers. In the words of the late easy E “get off my nuts trick”

    Avoid flash? Apples obviously owned and operated by children, the only reason they hate flash is because adobe Doesn’t want to work with them.

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  • http://www.ninjacrunch.com ninjacrunch

    Nice design tips. I turn on my macbook everyday and I really did not notice the apple homepage to be a good design inspiration..

  • texag

    I find Apple’s predominant designs to be very cold and not really appealing. As an earlier poster noted it is like a sterile hospital room. Not to mention the website isn’t as user friendly as it could be, particularly if you actually need to find out information beyond Apple’s collective ego. Took over an hour to find a solution to a sync issue with my iPhone.

  • John Espino

    Apple is not the pinnacle of design. Nor do they wish to be. Apple is successful in building its brand because it speaks of its personality: simple and clean. It does not try to be anyone; that is why the Apple experience is personal.

    On the other hand, I also admire at how Microsoft build its personality. The interesting mix of colors and splashes here and there are a welcome experience if you own an Apple product.

    The thing is though, you don’t really get what they want to do. By extension, you don’t get what they want you to do. Worse, you don’t get what to do.

    Kudos to those social network icons… I hope they get replaced.

  • http://www.schahryar.com Schahryar Fekri

    useful article :)
    thanks for post …


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  • Yaro Kasear

    You know, I’d rather make USABLE products instead of learning to hype them up because my engineers can’t figure out how to make their stuff work.

    Apple products stink when they actually go up against the competition.

  • http://www.kaldor.com Todd Falkowsky

    Thanks for the great article…friendly critique, there is a small grammar typo in the headline of the “Legal copy” part.

    Sorry to be that guy.


  • http://osxstation.com gez

    great article.. thank you.

  • http://lorilynn15.com lorilynn

    just bought my first apple/mackbook/safari. love it, love it, except for one big problem it is not stumbleupon toolbar friendly and that is a big problem. hope it gets resolved. other than that all is well:))

  • http://www.bluskymarketing.com/ Richard – BluSky Marketing

    Simple, Friendly and Confident. Good design & marketing tips.



  • Ligia

    Not so sure about the html5 thing. Even if Html 5 is the future, retrocompatibility is a must nowadays.

  • Aeiluindae

    Ubuntu’s new website is a good example of adapting this sort of good design philosophy. http://www.ubuntu.com/ And their colours are less bleak and more earthy than Apple’s. Not everybody likes the colours they use, but they do look good, even if they aren’t my personal preference.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jeroenem Jeroen Marechal

    A great read, thanks for sharing this. Although it seems common, it’s still nice to read such a nice round up article, well done!

  • http://www.eastdevonit.co.uk Dan

    Great article

    You’ve really hit the nail on the head with your comments…

  • http://www.newrhyme.com Brenda Mackey

    Great article. I wish that Mac’s were used in every BUSINESS! My only wish were that Mac’s were only made in America. In our Economy having only 10% of Apple’s business force and 90% outsourced makes me so SAD! Bring jobs back to America and give the jobs to legal citizens. Thank you

  • Deval Nakshiwala

    Great article. I was stunned when I visited Apple site first time. The pictures of products were realistic. Site layout was crisp and simply best.

  • gern

    Seriously, comparing Apple to MS is like comparing, you know…apples to oranges.

    Yes, Apple has beautiful design, but I maintain the usability of their products is seriously lacking. And that is not saying the usability of MS products is better.

    Also, saying Flash is bad is like saying hammers are bad. Flash is a tool and it’s only as effective as the one who wields it. Sadly, too many people use Flash like a hammer and pound out ridiculous crap, but there are so many beautiful examples of Flash done right.

  • mac

    MACs are for faggots who like shiny thing in an attempt to create/follow a trend

  • http://www.student-designers.com Student Designer

    Just a brilliant article! I’ve tweeted this and going to put a link to it from our website!

    In fact i’m now going to use this article as my template for design from now on!



  • adrian

    i’m an applefanboy myself, some of it is right, but a lot of boasting and exaggeration going on here

  • jay

    theres a spelling mistake in #12…..

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  • Jason

    I think you have some great information here but like some of the other commenters, I don’t think #5 belongs in this list. You are discussing design principles. Flash is not a design choice, it is a development platform. Why not advise against programming in Java, .NET, or Microsoft Silverlight (another similar proprietary platform).

    It is possible to create secure, well performing Flash/Flex/ActionScript based web applications that adhere to the design principles outlined in your other 14 points.

    If the argument is proprietary technology vs. open standards, Apple has a long history of closed proprietary standards which continues today. It is partly why they are so successful at keeping consistency across all products which is a great positive. However, it is also a bottom line driven business choice meant to raise the bar for entry and ensure they get their cut of every piece of interactive software, game, application etc that runs on their devices.

    If the argument is that Flash is buggy, insecure and performs poorly, so much can be said of any technology. As someone else pointed out, bad applications are written by bad developers. There happen to be a lot of bad flash developers which is unfortunate. There are also many 1000’s of malicious HTML sites which use javaScript to infect computers. We don’t see Apple on a campaign to ban javaScript because it is insecure or harmful.

    I say if you are going to discuss design tips – stick to design principles and leave the choice of platform up to the designer.

  • http://www.lawncareadvice.com.au/ Wade Garrett – Lawn Care

    I know exactly what you’re talking about, I have 3 Macs and whenever I look at a Windows machine I shudder. Also, as an avid shopper on Apple.com I have always loved their site, there is no other site like it for it’s stunning beauty.

  • Macfue

    I love Apple.. soo great

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  • Mo

    OK, Apple has some cool things going on as far as design is concerned. A couple of feedback from this consumer:

    1) Safari may look beautiful, but can’t seem to accept input from the scroll wheel on my PC mouse. Frustrates the dog out of me.

    2) Love iPods and iTunes, but in the next generation of the shuffle, can we please have the controls back on the unit itself? It may be lovely from a visual design standpoint, but it’s frustrating to use and I can’t plug it in to my car audio system and share the content with friends.

    Would buy a mac if I could afford it. I’m able to do an awful lot with my PC, though.

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  • J

    This Steve Jobs is a idiot! HTML 5 excuse me most of the browsers don’t support HTML5 yet! HTML5 is for now just a marketing tool!

    Flash Player crashes the Mac? In 3 years time, that I’m working on a MacBook Pro, it never crashed on the flashplayer. Moste of the time it crashed because of the crappy updates they dispatch at Apple.

    Avoid Flash? Not possible almost every web page has flash. Does he think the people at Adobe are sitting still? The new flash palyer will have full 3D hardware acceleration.

    Plus, when the time comes that HTML5 will be fully supported flash will be far more a head as it’s improving all the time. Or it will get a new purpose.

    So to say that Flash wont be used anymore is just talk of an idiot.

  • J

    For the people that do love Apple so much and sleep in front of the Apple store to get their latest gadgets are just pathetic, get a f*cking live! Or get a f*cking girl/boyfriend.

  • esa

    I must totally agree with J

  • Jeremie

    “Flash is dead”? Sorry dude, but those words of SJ reminds me those said about so many things in the computer history. C++, C#, ASP, JAVA, …
    Flash is a great platform. HTML5 is a great technology. But to be able to tell, you should know both of them, you should know their strengths, their weaknesses. You should have used them at least once… if you only believe a man’s saying without any proof, just because he is good, won’t lead you anyway, at least as a developer. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credulity)
    Oh, for the rest, nice post.

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  • http://www.mimarsedatbayrak.com Sedat Bayrak

    This one is really useful. Thanks. Smooth gradients and reflections are the keys.

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  • Tietovirus

    Good.. Oh, wait… Great article! :D

    It is interesting that there are many dots in Apple’s phrases. Just look at the Apple’s site. That is getting annoying :( I love the Apple’s design<33

  • http://www.cheapleafletprinters.com Cheap Printing

    Apples design is just absolue quality, but hey thats what their products are all about… great design and cool usability.

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  • http://www.textmessageshop.com Ramzz

    grate work i was looking some nice webs style i found this article thanks . apple always show the power . i use pc but am thinking to buy a mac sooon

    thanks you :)

  • Wilson Silva

    For me, all the tips are good except #5

  • http://macsage.com pkamm

    All tips are very good, especially #5.

    Hello? Why wouldn’t anyone move to HTML5 and CSS3?

  • hatingfaggots

    wow, why don’t you all get together and have an Apple night and praise the great lord steve jobs while jerking each other off. everyone else is using flash with out problem why is mac fan complaining? oh i forgot, none of are technical and expect everything to work like TV. You can defend yourself by thinking you’re technical but in reality if it doesn’t work for you, you’d cried and complain at why things “can’t just work”

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  • http://mimarosman.blogspot.com Mimar

    I know exactly what you’re talking about, I have 3 Macs and whenever I look at a Windows machine I shudder. Also, as an avid shopper on Apple.com I have always loved their site, there is no other site like it for it’s stunning beauty.

  • http://mimarosman.blogspot.com Mimar

    Nice design tips. I turn on my macbook everyday and I really did not notice the apple homepage to be a good design inspiration..

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  • Chris

    I absolutely agree that Apple has the best marketing and brand strategy team of any business. They could start making bricks of lead if they wanted, and would still be able to line up people out the door to buy them. I really do pay attention to how they compose and deliver their media, it is always very well done. I took many of the things said in this article into consideration when I start designing a website, it was very useful info indeed!

    I am a die-hard PC user; my fiance has a Mac, and frankly I can’t stand the lack of functionality. I think the whole “powerful computing” thing is a joke. I use her Macbook once a day or so to check email or surf the web while I am at her house. Sure everything that you would commonly do is easy to accomplish, but when I want to do some computing that takes muscle, I head home and use my tower running 7. Apple claims they have the edge in the “creative” market for art and music enthusiasts, but then, for example, why do the most powerful Digital Audio Workstations run exclusively on Windows or UNIX systems?

    I can’t agree with you at all on #5; Sure Flash is buggy, but don’t you think a company as enormous as Apple could hire a team to help out with Flash compatibility? I mean they say they are all about operating system stability, but the truth is that it is about control. Lots of fun and useful applications are written in Flash, which directs you, the consumer, to free entertainment alternatives rather than buying from their app store.

    Apple has the whole mass marketing thing down. I just don’t understand these people that worship Apple like a cult and buy Apple products simply because they are Apple products. ALL OS’s are user friendly (heck, even LINUX based systems are trending to try and appeal to less savvy users). All OS’s are intuitive and attempt to make tasks easier in their own way.

    Microsoft and other competitors just don’t do a good of job at holding your hand through the whole process. I definitely think that if they did a better job of marketing their products and cleaning up small details, Apple would be getting mighty nervous about their products built from mostly hype and hot air.

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  • http://wilsonsilva.net Wilson Silva


    “Hello? Why wouldn’t anyone move to HTML5 and CSS3?” – I didn’t say that. I said I didn’t agree with #5 which basically states “Steve Jobs doens’t like it and you shouldn’t too!”

  • Lax

    Great Article, Apple rocks, I couldn’t agree more attention to details gives a message to consumers that you pay attention to details and the quality of the product. Thanks for the post.

  • http://www.jayastainless.com Dust Bin


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  • http://itcertificationsyllabus.com IT Certification Syllabus

    great review again on the apple website.. i really enjoy the way you list down each and every detail in your review… really superb..

    Apple is no doubt a great company, but you’ve shown why their website is great as well…. there are really some take home’s on desinging from this post of yours


  • http://themespotter.com Dustin @ Themespotter WordPress Themes

    Great article Joshua! I’ve been a big fan of Apple’s design principles for a long time, and simplicity, attention to the small details, a consistency are some of the things that set them apart.

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  • javeed

    Great Article, I will accept all#15 points except #4, u challenged that there is no cringe image in apple website?haha i found one, Please check the recycling icon(green)logo

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