The Apple Standard

When working with new clients on SEO strategies, one of the first things I do is deeply analyze the company website, from aesthetics to content quality, to all the technical bits that affect search rankings.

Frequently, there's a decision to overhaul or completely redesign the site, and when preparing to do so I ask what brands a client admires most. Apple is invariably at the top of the list.

What businesses love are its use of white space, its commitment to an aesthetic point of view and its visually arresting use of beautiful photography. But they're also referring to the more emotional qualities Apple projects; the idea that magic seems to lurk around every corner. "Surprise" and "delight" are clearly core principles at Apple.

Such is the legacy of Steve Jobs. While the man is still very much alive (one hopes for many, many years to come) and the company is now in the hands of an eminently capable new CEO, it still feels right to pause and reflect on the contributions of Jobs and the company he's built.



Having grown up in the Bay Area, Apple began to loom large when I was still in high school. When I got to college, situated in the East Bay, I discovered we had one of the first Apple II labs, which is where the journalism students went to write and file their stories. I remember walking into the room and seeing the computers, and feeling that thrill I still feel to this day when I first use a new Apple product. Though it took us all a few minutes to figure out how to turn the darn things on, we were sucked in to the magic pretty quickly.

Many of my friends went to work at Apple and several have been made wealthy by it. And Apple alumni can now be found at dozens of early-stage start-ups, more mature technology companies and some of the hottest names in the Valley today. One of the reasons they get hired is because it is hoped that they'll bring some measure of essential Appleness with them.

To say that Apple is the gold standard against which every Valley entrepreneur holds him or herself would be an understatement. Everyone I've ever worked with references the ease of use, intuitiveness, and beauty of Apple products - from their website to their software and especially their hardware, Apple rarely gets things wrong. Even their product packaging is delightful.

Steve Jobs gets all the credit for this and deserves much of it. But it has been his ability to create the Apple Way of doing things, and to instill that essential Appleness in tens of thousands of employees worldwide, which has made the company so successful. Though a genius, Apple could not have gotten to where it is today on Jobs' talent alone. But he had the vision and he built the team, and both the vision and the team will live on now that he's no longer at the helm.

Central to the Apple Way is a belief in vision, and the willingness to take risks and do what you know in your gut is right. Jobs and team always listen but rarely market-test; they keep their proverbial fingers on the pulse, but never asked permission.

Too often companies come to market with a great idea or a wonderful concept, but lack an essential vision to really turn it into something remarkable - something wholly different or unique.

It's why you can go to any random website and will most likely find hundreds of others almost identical to it.

You see, it's one thing to admire Apple, and Jobs and their magical way of doing things. But it takes vision and guts and a willingness to "think different" in order be like them.

Sadly, those virtues are in very short supply. Still, it's a standard worth working toward.
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