Here an interesting article I found for my research of my 1st chapter:
Article by Simon Meek | Published on 24 October 2009
First, a bit of personal history. When I was gainfully employed in my first web design job, I exclusively used Windows (NT, for the older people amongst us), and by and large, it was a pretty painless experience. I was still using a Mac at home, and now, in my current freelance incarnation, I’m still using a Mac in preference to a Windows machine.
These days, when I walk into a design studio, they’re also all mostly using Macs. Sure there are a few Windows boxes lying around, and in my sphere of web design, these are usually used for testing. These studios, if pushed, could happily use Windows to turn out websites. But they don’t. Why not? Are they just the ignorant remains of the old print design studios, where everyone really did use Macs exclusively? Back in the day, after all, if you wanted to do desktop publishing, there was only one choice – a Mac running PageMaker. I think that’s certainly part of the puzzle, but there must be more to it than that.
Designers like to think they’re cool.
We can be vain and somewhat shallow, and we like to think that the choices we make regarding tools and products reflect our heightened awareness of the way things should work. After all, designers are employed to make things easier to use.
Apple are quintessentially cool, so at that level it makes some sense that the Apple brand is the platform of choice. Let’s face it, Windows is not cool. Designers think of Windows as being the platform that the accounts people use. Sad but true.
It just works (for me)
In my experience, it’s clear that Apple is a design-led company. It’s true that the hardware is lovely, and designers like nice things, but it’s deeper than that. From both a hardware and software perspective, Apple products are really well thought through, and designers really like this attention to detail. Using Apple gear is inspiring in its own right, and this gives designers a constant benchmark of quality and ease-of-use to work to.
Ben Huson, from London-based web design firm Camber, sums it up:
“Designers like design. Duh!”
In contrast, Microsoft feels like a technology-led company. Here’s an example as to how that relates to the end-user experience.
Setting up a Wi-Fi connection on my dad’s Vista laptop was an exercise in insane user interface design. It had essentially “forgotten” the home network, so I had to set it up again. In the “Connect to a Network” dialog I could see the network I wanted to connect to, but the “Connect” button was greyed out. After much to-ing and fro-ing about how to get to the settings for the network, I discovered I had to right-click on the network, and choose “Properties”. Only then could I give it the password it so craved. Then I had to Okay that, highlight the network in the original dialog and click “Connect”.
Conversely, on the Mac, you click on the Wi-Fi (Airport) icon in the top menu, select the network you want, it asks you for the password. Type it in and press Okay. That’s it. No dialog boxes, no hidden settings you have to dig for, nothing.
We can take from this admittedly arbitrary example that Macs are focused on the user, where Windows seems to take the view that so long as something is possible in the end, that’s just fine. That’s not how designers’ minds work. They want things to be simple, and user focused.
Further, designers don’t care about computers. For them, it’s all about the idea, and getting it out of their heads and onto the screen. Anything that gets in the way of that is a pointless annoyance. They don’t want to tinker with settings — it’s just not relevant to them. This may be a failing in the mindset, but I think it helps explain the continuing use of Macs in the creative industries.
Here’s Charlie Piggins of Internet Work Ltd to ram that point home:
“I want to be greeted by the warm fuzzy goodness of a shiny apple and know that all the ugliness of the startup is happening out of sight. Macs hide the ugly truth.”
Traditionally, Windows users laugh at the lack of software available on the Mac. However, these days, whilst there’s not the breadth there is on Windows, the software that does exist tends to be of a very high quality. Mac software tends to focus on one thing and do it very well. So, on a daily basis, for web design, I use:
- Panic’s Coda
- MacRabbit’s CSSEdit
- Bare Bones’ TextWrangler
All these apps are excellent — simple to use, well thought out, and elegant. They’re also Mac-only. These apps feel like part of your Mac in a way that Dreamweaver never will. Homegrown Mac software, designed and built by the Mac community, has a polish that most Windows apps don’t possess.
Of course, the big guns run very happily on the Mac. The Adobe Creative Suite is nearly entirely cross-platform (although on the Mac it feels alien, clunky and slow), and Microsoft Office works on the Mac just fine.
So why do designers use Macs?
What can we take from all this? We can either assume that designers are cool-hunting, arrogant technophobes, and are so emotionally stunted as to be made whole only by a shiny new MacBook, or it just may be the case that designers really do have a heightened sense of what makes for a good computing experience.
I know which answer I prefer, but what do you think? Post your response below!