SEO Lessons from Apples approach to User Experience

Apple – the kings of user experience. What can we learn from the Apple Watch?


Love Apple or hate it, you have to admit their usability lead methodology to design and product development has changed the way we interact with technology over the last 15 years. In this blog I’ve specifically looked at how Apple have approached the user experience in developing the Apple watch and what lessons we can take from that when it comes to website design and SEO.

Henry Ford once said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”

Apple have the same knack of producing products people don’t know they need. From the first ipod, to the iphone and ipad, so I decided to take a look at how they manage to do this. It appears the angle they take is not “how do we make a product we’re going to sell lots of” but “how do we solve a problem for the people who are going to use it”.

Whether it’s a success or failure is not important here, but more the philosophy when it comes to the user experience of any specific Apple product. When Apple hired the former Chief Technical Officer (Kevin Lynch) from Adobe, his role was to turn the Apple watch from an idea into a product… but not just any watch, one which would revolutionise the wearable device.

[box] One sequence of taps means you’re getting a phone call. A subtly different sequence means you have a meeting.[/box]

One of the features I like is that every aspect of the Apple watch is designed to be engaged with for only 5 seconds. It will send you a “pulse” to notify you when you receive a message, if you look at your watch to see a message which will say “message from Duncan” if you immediately put your hand down again it will remain unread. If you keep looking at it the whole message will be shown. By time you look at the message the “quickboard” (a clever robot) will have read the message and come up with a number of possible responses for you to reply. So when your mate asks if you want a drink in the “old bull” or the “nags head”, the phone “old bull” or “nags head” automatically show up in the list and all you have to do is tap one to respond.


These are just a couple of examples of how Apple see its users interacting with the watch. But what is important here is that Apple have recognised that their own iphones (and smart phones in general) have actually become problem in society. We never put our phones down, we’re obsessed with them, constantly checking and re-checking for messages and updates. Society has stopped looking at each other and started engaging with technology. So, in a rather that create a product which will make us even more dependent on their best selling product, they have created something which makes us less dependent on it with the idea of freeing us from our phones.

Is it a bold move? Or just very shrewd, because obviously you can’t have an apple watch without an iphone… so in turn selling more phones. But let’s not take away from the angle – it’s about the ultimate user experience, solving problems and improving the user’s lifestyle.

[box] It has become common for Apple employees to randomly stand up in meetings because their watch told them to.[/box]

Now if we take the same approach to SEO and website usability. For too long many online marketeers, webmasters and SEOs have taken the approach of “what does Google want to see” and “how will this rank better in Google’s SERPs”.  Forget what Google want and start to concentrate on what your customers and users want. If you have a website that is easy to use, with the right products, the right information and users are confident enough to buy, enquire or consume your product – hey presto – you’re giving your users what they want…. And funnily enough… that is the same as what Google wants.

Having a customer focused approach to SEO also means you are not trying to manipulate Googles algorithm, so you are future proofing your site from any algorithm updates… a couple of added benefits 1) it means you can sleep at night and 2) build a sustainable business. This all may seem like common sense, but to this day we still see examples of businesses suffering from poor advice, spammy link acquisition techniques, keyword stuffing and generally activities that will put their business at risk and not improve it.

So if you want to improve your online business, do as Apple does, start with the user and then continue to build everything around your user. Will the Apple Watch be a hit? Who knows. Are Apple successful? It’s hard to say they’re not.

… and no… I’ve not bought an Apple Watch (or intending to… well… maybe… but not for a while!)

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