Over the last few weeks I've started to pay more attention to product design. I don't know if that's because I've recently read the Steve Jobs biography that paints him as a legendary stickler for good design or if it's because I'm slowly moving my company towards its first real product release but, for whatever reason, I've started taking notice.
Largely, I've noticed how much most product design sucks.
through a large department store the other day, I started looking at
some of the home appliances; looking for anything that jumped out and
grabbed my eye. Nothing did. I saw the same smooth curves or sharp
angles on everything. Nothing looked remotely different, unique, or
exciting. Everything was just really boring.
just home appliances. Look at your computer, your television, your MP3
player, your car. None of it truly has the style to grab you by the neck
and make you take notice. None of it is beautiful or looks like
anyone paid much attention to pleasing the eye. It's the same tired,
old, motifs repeated over and over on product after product. Nothing is special.
our company starts designing its own product, I wonder if we'll be
faced with the same dilemma. Will our product pay more attention to
function over form? Will we seek to delight the users eye as much as we
strive to meet their tech needs? Is there a need for compromise between
radically different product design and really great functionality? Can
you have both in the same product?
believe the dearth of boring products is because consumers don't really
notice anymore - especially on the low end. Sure, someone who pays
$3,500 for a home stereo system is going to want something that looks
amazing but what does someone who pays $159 for one expect? Good sound. That's it. The lower
we go, the more function seems to become more important than form.
I worked at Walmart, I had a mantra I lived by and still live by today: Every customer gets the
million dollar purchase treatment even if they're only spending $5.
When you choose to give me the money you worked hard to earn, you
deserve to be treated to a spectacular experience. How much you're spending doesn't really matter. The fact that you're spending it with me instead of a competitor is what matters.
coworkers and managers often didn't understand why I'd spend enormous
amounts of effort helping customers choose sometimes incredibly cheap
products. It's because they deserved my time and effort. The deserved
the best. That's how I feel about product design: customers deserve the
best effort and I don't believe designers are giving them that.
about you? What are some products who's designs just 'wows' you? Why
does it make such an impact on you? What about shoddy products? What
would you do to change the design to make them amazing? Leave your
comments below or send me an email and discuss it.