When it comes to design, the thinking has always been to “follow Apple’s lead”. The company has, after all, made a name for itself when it comes to incorporating design that is pleasing to the eye and incredibly user friendly. But the winds are changing on that and today it’s time to reevaluate if following Apple’s lead is likely to bring success, or increase problems with customer satisfaction.

Traditionally, Apple was the forerunner when it came to design. But recently, two of their original designers came out to criticize the company for recent changes in design that they say place beauty over function. The debate is between UI and UX design — User Internace3 and User Experience, respectively.

Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini and Don Norman were two integral designers in the company’s past and each played a large role in making the company what it is today. The two got together and wrote a piece on Co.Design blasting Apple’s new direction with design — and they aren’t mincing words stating straight out that “Apple is destroying design.”

So what’s their chief complaint? Simply that Apple has made their systems appealing to the eye, but frustrating to actually use. The implementation of hidden options, overly simplistic layouts and baffling control may look pretty from a minimalistic stance, but it makes the software increasingly difficult for users to actually use.

This is illustrated perfectly by applications that deliver inventory control business intelligence for small companies. Inventory control that delivers business intelligence was, for many years, something only larger companies could use but today’s application have made it more accessible. Now it’s important those software packages also make it easier to use and simply nicer to work with.

The take-away from this is that companies have to walk a fine line between design that is aesthetically pleasing (UI design) and ultimately user-friendly from a fictional standpoint (UX design). This lesson is increasingly important as more companies work to deliver big business service to small companies — where user interface and design simply must find a way to co-exist.