Is Design More Important than Functionality?

I have worked for several years with developers and designers; arguments often rage between the two groups about what’s more important design or functionality.

It’s also interesting to put clients into this mix. When demonstrating a new system it always fascinates me how end users react. Typically if the system “looks” visually stunning functional deficiencies will be overlooked by the end user – but presenting a system that is functionally perfect without a stunning design often leads to disappointment.

Steve Jobs was notorious for placing huge value on the aesthetics of a product, this is evident in products like the iPhone and the iPad – but does this mean that design is more important than function?

It seems apparent that users like to use systems that feel superior – the human race is notorious for being a little shallow at times and traditionally place a lot of emphasis on the first impression – I guess this is also true of products and product design. In this sense design isn’t necessarily “more” important than functionality but it is incredibly important to always give a good first impression.

To realise that this is true you only need to look at the shock reaction when Susan Boyle demonstrated she had an outstanding voice – or the day that Paul Potts aced his audition. An assumption had been made in both cases that because they didn’t look like traditional pop stars they were not going to be able to sing.

I wonder how many websites have suffered this fate – functionally brilliant but simply didn’t live up to design expectation. What’s you view? Can superior functionality ever live up to expectation without quality design?

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Categories: Design, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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