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What You See, Some of What's in the Future, And How We Go About Doing It: HI at Apple Computer

  • Rivendel Consulting and Design
CHI ’95 MOSAIC OF CREATIVITY May 7-11 1995 Organization Overviews I
What You See, Some of What’s in the Future, And How
We Go About Doing It: HI at Apple Computer
Don Nonnan Jim Miller Austin Henderson
Apple Computer, Inc. Apple Computer, Inc. Apple Computer, Inc.
1Infhite Loop 1 Infinite Loop 1Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014 USA Cupertino, CA 95014 USA Cupertino, CA 95014 USA
E-mail: E-mail: E-mail:
In this organizational overview we cover some of the
critical aspects of human interfaee research and application
at Apple or, as we prefer to call it, the “User Experience.”
We cover what we do, where we are going (as much as we
are permitted to say in public), and how we are organized.
Some of our innovations in the product process and in the
transfer of research from the laboratories to product should
be of special interest to the HCI community.
KEYWORDS: Organizational overview, organizational
structure, technology transfer
Apple Computer is known for its innovation in the field of
human interface. This is aresult of considerable research
effort and attention to detail in the execution of products. In
addition, Apple’s HI groups play aprominent role in
product development. In this organizational overview, we
cover some of the critical aspeets of human interface
research and application at Apple or, as we prefer to call it,
the “User Experience.” Much of the success and failures of
HI at Apple as elsewhere depend upon organizational
factors, so we discuss the structure of HI at Apple and its
role in the product process. Some of our innovations in the
product process and in the transfer of research from the
laboratories to product should be of special interest to the
HCI community.
The role of HI within the product process is certainly not
perfect within Apple, and the quality varies within divisions
and from product to product. But the company is sensitive
to and supportive of the needs of human interfaee work, and
continurd changes are being made in the product prmess.
The structure will probably never be perfect, but it will be
instructive to review Apple’s process and some of its major
successes and failures.
We show examples of the role of HI in research and
product, including QuickTime VR and the Star Trek: The
Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual, and Kid
Sire, avisual programming language for young children.
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Two products that had considerable user experience
emphasis from the very product conception OpenDoc
and Apple Guide will be discussed and demonstrated,
with an emphasis on the impact that HI had on the product
cycle. If possible, we will discuss some of the new
imovations soon to come from Apple.
We demonstrate the complexity of the product design
process by discussing illustrative examples, including a
rather trivial, but incredibly complex issue determining the
location and function of the on-off switch for Apple’s
computers. We describe the role of the “User Experience
Architect’s Office”, which works across the divisions,
helping to harmonize the human interface and industrial
design process across the divisions of Apple and ATG. This
office has introduced anew procedure for products, which
starts with the creation of a“User Experience Requirements
Document” (UERD). We discuss the UERD’S impact on
the product cycle and, most importantly, the positive
attitude it has created within the engineering and marketing
community toward human interfaee.
Apple is made up of four different product divisions, Claris,
and the Advanced Technology Group (ATG), which is the
research arm. The largest human interfaee group working in
the product groups is within AppleSoft, the software arm of
Apple. This group, the Human Interface Design Center,
also provides HI support for Apple PC, the home of the
hardware side of Apple the desktop Mats, entry-level
Mats, portables, and imaging (printers, displays, and
cameras). Apple’s industrial design group is
organizationally located within Apple PC, and it works
closely with the HI groups throughout the company. In
addition, there are HI groups in Apple Business Systems,
Personal Interactive Electronics, and Claris.
Considerable research on HCI-related topics takes place
within ATG, some of which will be discussed in the
presentation. And, finally, there is considerable cross-
fertilization between ATG and the product side of the
company: the best technology transfer takes place when
ideas are jointly developed and by transferring people, not
just ideas.
... User experience has a long history that can be tracked back to late 1800s or early 1900s. The term UX was brought to wider knowledge by Donald Norman in the mid-1990s [75]. UX involves all aspects of users' interaction with a product or service [4]. ...
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