What design lessons should every business learn from the developers that brought us the iPhone?

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In the 1990s Apple desktop computers weren’t widely used by most people around the globe. But today the Apple name is synonymous with success. Apple desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones are highly coveted by consumers and have become status symbols.

Where does the success come from?

Part of Apple’s success can be attributed to to how their products are designed. Apple Founder Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

This philosophy has clearly paid off. In 2013, CNN marked World Industrial Design Day by asking Gianfranco Zaccai, CEO of Continuum, an innovation design consultancy, to name the 12 best designs of the past 100 years. On his list were two Apple devices: the 1984 Macintosh desktop computer and the iPod.

What is the key of this success?

The key to Apple’s design success has been attributed to design simplicity. While other manufacturers like Samsung produce a number of different devices with a variety of features, Apple offers few options. Instead they focus on optimizing the design of the products they make.

Apple’s major success was launched with the iPod. At the time there were several competitors in the portable music player market, but Apple quickly trounced the competition. That’s because iPods were much simpler to use than other devices, with a sleek interface controlled by just a few buttons.

Apple was also the first company to mass market a touch screen device. By eliminating the keyboard and other navigational tools found on most other smartphones at the time, the iPhone created a more responsive user interface.

What about today?

Today, some complain that each new version of the iPhone is not especially different from previous versions, but this is intentional. Apple has crafted a device that already appeals to consumers. The company doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

And businesses should take note. When designing any kind of consumer product, simplicity is key. You want a product that can be picked up and used by consumers quickly and a sleek design that won’t detract from the device’s primary purpose.

As a testament to Apple’s success many of the devices we use today closely mirror Apple’s designs. Their success demonstrates that simple, user friendly designs without bells and whistles are what most appeal to consumers.