Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs

By Ken Kocienda (2018)

None of us knew how a touchscreen keyboard was supposed to work.

The work could be like trying to fit together a jigsaw puzzle when we weren’t sure what the final picture was supposed to look like, and the pieces kept changing shape.

The original iPhone supported multitouch, and using pinch to zoom to scale a photo or a map was one of those intuitive gestures you see once and remember forever.

My Notes

Removing options as a “cascade effect” which enables simplifying and removing a whole bunch of other stuff.

Ben Shneiderman on Direct Manipulation.


Demos were fundamental to our work at Apple. We used them to highlight the potential, explore the concepts, show the progress, prompt the discussion, and drive the decisions for making our products.

Most demos—almost all of them—fail in the absolute, dead-end sense of the word.

We rarely had brainstorming sessions.

Whiteboard discussions feel like work, but often they’re not, since it’s too difficult to talk productively about ideas in the abstract.

The Keyboard

Richard Williamson: “Your keyboards are like everybody else’s, and they don’t work. Everyone is making their keys too small, and they’re too hard to tap,” he told me. “The keys need to be bigger.”

Larger buttons: two grouped key prototypes; the “winning” QWERTY prototype on the right:

We always made quick choices about small details, but we were always willing to reconsider previous decisions. We took more time with bigger questions, but never too much. We were always mindful of making steady progress.

As Henri [Lamiraux] sifted through and related the details at such times, I appreciated his ability to project the confidence that everything would work out.

Steve Jobs

Three weeks or a month before the keynote itself, Steve would start rehearsing… He practiced. A lot.

Steve also announced that Safari not only loaded web pages faster than Internet Explorer… it loaded web pages three times faster. … His explanation led with speed. … This clear connection of words to actions in a product development cycle was new to me.

Jobs on success…

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.

I found Steve’s approach could work as well after a failure as he said it could after a success.

Jobs: “Design is how it works.”