Taste Is the Refined Sense of Judgment and Finding Balance That Produces a Pleasing and Integrated Whole

Having ‘good taste’ is difficult to define. Taste is subjective, it is only confirmed by assent from others (from Immanual Kant) a kind of determinate negation.

Taste is also essential for building great products.

In Creative Selection, Ken Kocienda describes what it means at Apple. Taste is three things 1) judgment 2) balance 3) and wholeness.

A refined sense of judgment leads to good decisions repeatedly. Balancing important dimensions and trade-offs means building for people and not building to build. Finally, it’s pleasing as a whole—it all fits together and pleasing not because of a thin veneer, but because design is how it works.

See also

  • Design Is How it Works

    Steve Jobs was quoted as saying “Design is how it works.” Design is not a step in the process to make it look nice after it’s already been built, but an imbuing process that happens as a matter of course. In that way design is substantial and not a gimmick or afterthought.

  • Good Taste Is an Intuition About Power

    Good taste is a closeness between what you perceive as power vs what is power, independent of who is observing it. This understanding of the difference between real and represented is an intuition of power.

  • You Can’t Be Normal and Expect Abnormal Returns

    This quote by Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor at Stanford GSB, sums up the difficulty of achieving something different by doing the same things. You can apply this to “success” or any venture really. For example, it’s highly unlikely that Tony Hawk became the best skateboarder ever by living a conventional life.

  • How to Be a Good Product Engineer

    Companies don’t really want frontend engineers or backend engineers or infrastructure engineers. If you work at an engineering as product organization, they want good product engineers solving user problems. As an industry, this is poorly understood and little is written to help people understand the principles of good product engineering.

  • The Taste Gap

    What gets you into a creative field is having really good taste. When starting out, you’ll often be disappointed because what you create doesn’t match your taste. The gap is why people give up on creative endeavors.

  • Chatbots Lack Affordances

    When interacting with a chatbot, there are not indications of what to say or how to say it. Without affordances, it’s difficult to know what to do at first.

  • The Infinite Butler Problem

    Conventional wisdom says you should do one thing and do it really well. Customers however, can only bear so many different tools before the fragmentation makes it harder to solve their problem.

  • Good Taste Must Exist Because Good Artists Exist

    Some people argue that there is no such thing as “good taste” in art. However, you can prove that it exists by trying to prove that it does not.

  • Don’t Ask What the Problem Is, Ask What the Situation Is

    It’s common in product and engineering circles to constantly ask people “what problem are you solving?” While this can be useful for focusing work on the right things, it also leads to solutions disguised as problem statements and self-referential arguments. Instead, ask “what’s the situation?”. This gives space between facts and the interpretation of those facts which makes it easier to understand and spot errors.

  • Speed X AI (Literature Notes)

    I read Speed x AI from Nfx. It says that founders need to move much faster or those leveraging generative AI will leave you in the dust.