Jony Ive's website launches

Published on Saturday, October 16, 2021

I'll say it: Jony Ive's new website is bad design.

John Gruber calls it "beautiful, simple (purely typographic), elegantly animated, and well written".

It is arguably "beautiful" (if your idea of beauty is "what if we didn't have any colors at all in the world?"), but it isn't "simple" at all. It's not simple to find out what this company does. Or whom the website is for. Or how to do anything with this website.

It's the antithesis of the Mac's take of "simple". Everything is unintuitive.

Rands counts at least 9 (13?) different animations on the comma (which, as a cherry on top of how bad all of this is, also happens to be grammatically wrong), and that is a delight, if refreshing a web page that doesn't do anything useful is your idea of a good time.

But to me, it really exemplifies everything that was wrong with Apple's era of design when Jony Ive was Chief Design Officer:

  • the art is nice, yes
  • the functionality is bad
  • so is the accessibility

I'm glad Apple no longer has this guy design their professional machines, or any of their devices, or their user interfaces. He had great ideas in the 90s and 00s, but apparently got bored and took a hard right turn towards "design is how it looks" avenue. It's not.

  1. You start with how it works.
  2. Then you make it look nice.
  3. Lastly, as a cherry on top, you add whimsy.

For example: the 2002 iBook I had back in the day1 had a little light at the front right. When the light was off, it was concealed very well that there was a light at all; all you saw was that magnesium frame. But when you shut the lid, and the machine was still running, the light would start pulsating to let you know that it went to sleep. And it did so in a soothing way, almost as though it was "breathing".

There's three layers to this feature:

  1. first, the functionality is useful. You want to know whether the laptop is still running, or asleep, or entirely off. This light would tell you as much. It would also tell you when it's safe to move your laptop around after shutting it, because the pulsing wouldn't start until afterwards.
  2. second, it's nice: you wouldn't even know the light is there until it's on. (If you look very closely, you can see some markings. On later aluminum models, they would fake the texture of the aluminum to make it less obvious.) Thus, it never feels in the way.
  3. and third, it's whimsical. They reason it feels like it's breathing is that they mimicked the human rhythm of breathing. They even patented that.

That was good design. Useful, pretty, cute.

A website that's hard to scroll, hard to read, near-impossible to use with accessibility features, and not very descriptive? That's not good design.

  1. and other contemporary Mac laptops like various PowerBooks, I'm sure.