12 January 2008

Innovative Designs and Devices

From Innovative Designs and Devices:
Steve Jobs stated once that the “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” While this statement has proven to be crucial over thousands of years, one shouldn’t misinterpret it by emphasizing the functionality despite the design. When it comes to product design, the significance of aesthetics of a given device, the way its design looks and feels, determines the choice of the customer once the functionalities of multiple devices are more or less similar. If supported by sound user interface and a well-tested, clean implementation, innovative design solutions can drastically enhance the user experience.
(I not sure if the product’s they featured were really the best examples, but I really liked that bit from the introduction.) Design isn’t just the shape of the alarm clock. It’s whether you can figure out how to set the alarm without having to read the manual and then hold one button down while pressing another button 3,600 times in a row only to go just a bit too far and then have to cycle all the way around. (I’m at a complete loss for why you can’t buy an alarm clock with a simple ten-key pad. Or, for that matter, why there aren’t standards widely implemented for syncing the clocks in all the consumer electronics in our homes.) Design without functionality is worthless. Well, maybe not “worthless”, but worth very little. A vase that’s all design and no functionality can still sell, though probably not as well as the most utilitarian vase. A computer that is all design and no functionality won’t sell. Functionality without design means you’re leaving yourself open to be killed by a competitor who simply copies your functionality and adds design. There's a point at which the feature set for a type of product stabilizes and it takes rare insight to improve it. At that point, implementing that feature set is usually pretty straightforward as well. So, design can give you a competitive advantage.

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