3 lessons Steve Jobs taught us about design and business

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As a teenager in 1998, I can still remember the time my mother returned from work one evening after purchasing a first-edition iMac G3. In an era where people associated personal computers with gray, uninspiring boxes, the iMac was a dazzling new product that was alarmingly out of touch with the status quo. From the ergonomic design of the mouse to the translucent, bondi blue casing, the iMac didn’t look like a technology product - in fact, it didn't look like it was made on this planet! Marketing the iMac as a personal accessory instead of a technology product marked a revolutionary shift in thinking; one which helped to dramatically improve the profitability of Apple. Not only was the iMac aesthetically captivating, it was also designed around customer desires - specifically the desire to access the internet quickly and easily. With a built-in 56k modem, a blazingly fast processor and no floppy drive (which seemed confusing at the time), this was truly a product for designed for the age of information. 

It was not until I grew older that I learned more about Steve Jobs - Apple’s visionary leader who helped to deliver a product which not only revolutionized the technology industry, but also revolutionized the way my family and I used the internet. Having read Steve’s biography and watched many of his speeches online (his iMac keynote speech is still one of my favorites), I came to understand that the enormous success he achieved during his life was a direct result of his core values, particularly his values regarding design. As the co-owner of Mammoth Infographics, my business partner and I believe that values are like the DNA of a business - they influence day to day actions but also guide the path for growth and evolution. While every entrepreneur must determine the unique values for their business, we have taken a great deal of inspiration from Steve Jobs in formulating our values at Mammoth Infographics.

1. Simplicity

“Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains." - Steve Jobs

One of the common misconceptions about infographics is that people tend to think complex data visualizations are the most effective. However, this is completely untrue - sophisticated visualizations are the most effective, and these are often the most simple. If a person isn’t able to view a stylish graph and discern the important facts and trends in a matter of seconds, then it is ineffective (regardless of how stunningly beautiful it looks). Simplicity is a key feature of infographic design, not only in regards to the data visualizations, but also for other facets such as the copywriting, narrative structure and overall style/typography. While it can take a lot of effort in order to create an infographic which is both simple but effective, this is always the correct approach in terms of producing a piece that cultivates engagement.

2. Excellent standards

“Be a yardstick of quality.” - Steve Jobs

Steve was a renowned perfectionist and would stop at nothing to ensure his visions were realized, right down to the tiniest detail. “I love the iMac, but we just delivered it in the wrong color,” Steve stated, in the wake of a product launch which completely reversed the fortune of Apple and changed the way personal computers were marketed forever! Lamenting over the color choice of a hugely profitable product only serves to demonstrate Steve’s unwavering commitment to excellence. Taking inspiration from Steve’s perfectionism, we at Mammoth Infographics believe that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right! In order to serve our clients’ needs effectively, we need to be well versed in a number of disciplines, including: data visualization, illustration, design, research and content writing. With our team of experts on hand, we have the requisite skills and tenacity to produce impeccable work, time and time again - which leads me to my next point...

3. Teamwork

"It's not the tools that you have faith in - tools are just tools. They work, or they don't work. It's people you have faith in or not." - Steve Jobs

If you wanted to create an infographic yourself, you could simply hire a freelance copywriter and graphic designer, pay them to be efficient with their time and be done with it. At Mammoth Infographics, we believe in a relationship culture, not a sales culture. If a client wishes to commission us to produce an infographic for them, they are not only hiring us for our expertise, but also for our commitment to seeing their vision realized. This is why we always take the time to assess what each client wants to achieve with their infographic and provide them with a point of contact who will answer all of their queries throughout the design process. In order for us to achieve this, we hire personnel who are not only passionate about their creative disciplines, but who are also passionate about relationships, both within the organisation and with our clients. Talent is great, but it’s the ability to collaborate that truly makes the difference!

Summary

While Steve was certainly not without his critics, we believe that everyone (particularly entrepreneurs and designers) could learn some important lessons from him. Steve imbued Apple’s products with a sense of identity ‒ every part worked with one another synergistically in order to achieve a goal ‒ and we strive to do the same with our infographics. Thanks Steve, for the inspiration that you’ve provided to our businesses, and may you continue to change the world with your knowledge and ideals for many years to come.