Lessons in Product Design from Tony Fadell

Tony Fadell made headlines last year with the release of Nest, the consumer-friendly, AI-infused, beautiful thermostat. That this thermostat is all of these things should be no surprise if you look at Tony’s background – as the inventor of the iPod, and an executive at Apple who helped shepherd the iPhone to release – you would expect him to know his product design.

Recently Fadell gave an on-stage interview at the Boxworks conference in San Francisco where he discussed the principles of good product conception and design. For the iPod, his inspiration came from frustration:

“When I think about changing things, it first starts with the curiosity of why something works the way it does,” Fadell says about his process for innovation. “I was a DJ..a “wedding DJ”, back in the 90′s. I had an idea for something like a Jukebox-based MP3 player back [then], but we didn’t have the technology to do it.”

He also stressed the importance of what I would call “personality” in your product. My co-founder Steve liked to say that whenever Jobs would reveal a new product on stage, you could dependably expect it to have a “glaring omission.”

Tony’s take:

Simpler products present a purer experience because they’re designed by people that aren’t afraid to have an opinion.

That opinion gives the product personality. The glaring omission is the birth mark that gives the product its beauty.

I encourage you to check out the whole interview for for insights from Tony.