Scott Hurff writes about what designers can learn from the new iMessage.

Apple’s iMessage announcements can teach us a lot about the value of knowing our customers. It’s not enough to build products based on rumor, anecdote or speculation. We have to know exactly how and why our customers do what they do, and in what context they’ll be using our products.

That requires a cultural awareness of their fears, pressures, and how they’re using competing or complementary services. And finally, it requires that we as product builders respect our customer’s time and intelligence.

Push to talk will be very useful for people who communicate in languages that are hard input. It also makes it easier for people who can’t type, usually due to illiteracy, to send messages. This feature is already available on other messaging apps but iMessage has the advantage of coming shipped with the iDevices.

This reminds me of a recent piece by Dr Dang.

Steve Jobs’s “design is how it works” gets a lot of lip service, but when most Apple bloggers and pundits say design they still mean how it looks. Flat design, skeuomorphic design, “clean” design—these generate millions of words of heated discussion, but they have little to do with how your computer operates. You could go to the Iconfactory and change every icon on your machine, but that wouldn’t change how you or it work.