iOS 7. Unpolished By Design.

In the startup community, we celebrate our initial launches with fanfare and excitement. We launch our apps and sites out into the world in unfinished states and trumpet our success at, well, being able to get them out into the world at all in the first place. When we receive a critique about these newly-born products, we usually respond with “it’s new” or “we’re going to get there.”

Even at larger, more established startups like Etsy, we push ourselves to launch quickly, learn quickly, and polish as we go. And, with each iteration, touch-up here, touch-up there, UX change, and code revision, our apps and sites get better, more usable, more friendly, more honed. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

Today, Apple pressed the big reset button on their entire OS and aesthetic. Sure, the functionality is still, largely, there. But they’ve essentially taken the last six years of tweaking, touching-up, honing, and revising and wiped it all away to begin again. To learn again. To hone from a new, unknown place.

And no one is celebrating.

For the last couple of years we’ve all complained, jeered and teased our phone-maker-of-choice for not totally revising their UI. For using felt. For using leather stitching. They’re falling behind the times, we said. They need to revolutionize their interface.

And now we’re complaining that this completely revamped, new, version one interface isn’t perfect. Isn’t polished. Isn’t honed. We asked for a revolution and were delivered one which, all complexities considered, amounts to more than any one of our best first launches.

It will get better. It will be honed. They’ll spend the next six years polishing this interface until we’re complaining that it’s not real-looking enough. Not directly-connected-to-our-brains enough. Not whatever enough. And they’ll revolutionize it again. And we’ll complain.

And, again, we’ll forget how hard that first launch is.


Now read this

Designing Inward

A little over a year into my job at Etsy, we had made a lot of changes to the design team and how we operated. We’d hired a bunch of amazing product designers. We had weekly, round-robin design critiques with the entire team and had... Continue →