The Designer Will Make It Pretty

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I am sure that my day job as a designer has a lot of similarities to that of the entire Smashing community. I create wireframes, mockups and concepts. I craft HTML and CSS using methods that I hope are fluid and adaptive. At the same time, my coworkers and I serve over 100 clients and 13 million users on a single platform.

Each client has the ability to design their website as they see fit, but we have an unbalanced ratio of designers to clients. I do not have the luxury in my day-to-day work of spending months working through a design process as part of a client’s implementation. However, this scenario of limited time hardly strikes me as rare among my design peers.

Because of these constraints, I hear a phrase quite often that many designers would compare to nails on a chalkboard. The people I work with who do not handle the design side of our platform will often tell clients, “The designer will make it look pretty.” Now, “it” could refer to a lot of things: a log-in form, maybe a simple button, or the entire website. When content is raw, unformatted or confusing to the user, it gets sent to the design department so that it can come out the other end “pretty.”

The result of my design process.1
The result of my design process.

Web designers hate this perspective. We consider what we do to be far more important than decorating sloppy content and returning it in a timely fashion. Many of us would argue that our real job is to make content accessible, flexible, easy to use and easy to work with. The real value in design comes from what you can’t see or what you don’t appreciate; it comes from all of the trouble that you don’t have because we fixed it ahead of time. Thank goodness we know better: if we just made things pretty, all of our work would be in vain.

Why Designers Hate “Pretty” Design

Professional designers don’t make things pretty because it’s beneath us. Your visual acceptance of our work is the result of careful decision-making built around grid systems, perfect ratios, color theory, typography and—no, I won’t make your logo bigger—white space. The practice of simply decorating is something we used to do when we were just getting started down this career path. We used to make pretty things in Photoshop to kill time in class or to tinker with a new tool or technique. We have since moved on to bigger and better things.

Image source: Mike Rohde2
Image source: Mike Rohde3.

Yes, the design community has graduated from the pretty principle to less visual but supposedly more impactful measures. The technology of the present enables us to reach a higher plateau, and we are a bunch of people who refuse to settle for good being good enough, and that includes making something pretty. Right?

Embrace The Pretty

Anyone who feels they have left pretty and supposedly meaningless things behind is wrong. Leaving behind the idea of making your work appealing to the eye is to leave behind real value. Aesthetics are no petty trick for the uninspired. Quite the opposite, really.

Our great human minds come preprogrammed with many incredible default behaviors that automate complex decision processes. One such behavior is to be drawn to attractive things. Of course, this isn’t news. We prefer to spend our lives with companions who we are attracted to, we want pretty spaces to live and work in, and we invest our time and money into these things to make them look good. However, this hidden pattern in our behavior can account for much more than these obvious attraction-driven actions.

Attraction works surprisingly well not just by direct preference but by association, too. Take, for example, something that we see on a daily basis. The process of selling products with attractive models or celebrities may come across as a lazy method of advertising, perhaps by a marketing team that is slacking off. But despite its transparency, this method remains an effective way to pass attributes that we generally associate with attractive people onto a completely unrelated product.

This comes to light in a study4 performed on two groups of males who were shown the same car advertisement, the only difference being the inclusion of a pretty woman alongside the car5. The group that was shown the car with the woman not only rated the car as faster, better designed and more valuable, but when they were confronted about the influence of the attractive woman, nearly all of the subjects denied that it played a role in their judgment of the car.

How does all of this relate to Web design? Like so many things, it comes back to the content. Content is the most important element of a website, and how a user reacts to that content or recalls it later can be heavily influenced by its surrounding. The most obvious example is our judgment of credible information.

News Story Comparison6

In the example above, you can see an article surrounded by distracting advertisements on the right. Crushed into leftover space or given no regard for good typography seems less important or even less factual to us than one that excels in all of these categories—even if the words are exactly the same. To the reader, it is clear that the time spent crafting an article into a beautiful experience indicates that it has higher value and more legitimacy. But the benefits don’t stop at the paragraph level. The entire experience of a website can be enhanced with an eye for beauty. I’ll even show you how.

The Laws of Attraction

The process of booking a place to stay on vacation or a trip has been completely transformed by the Internet. To be completely honest, I’m in my 20s, so I don’t really know what people did to book places to stay before the Internet, but it had to be terrible. Today we have dozens of options for finding deals on hotels, resorts, apartments and beyond. From the variety of choices out there, patterns have emerged in the process of finding places to stay. Every website out there starts with the basics: destination, arrival and departure dates, and guests. This is a good pattern, and it generally serves our best interests, but oh, the difference that design can make.

Airbnb website7

Airbnb8 has established an impressive level of popularity in a short time among travelers looking for an experience outside of the standard hotel room. This is in no small part due to the emphasis it has placed on design. When you visit the Airbnb website, its entire mission is revealed to you in an instant. Large vibrant images bleed through the background, showing some hand-picked potential destinations.

These careful selections serve several purposes. First, it becomes immediately clear that we are dealing with something beyond the drab hotel experience. Secondly, it’s no coincidence that the destinations that enter and leave your peripheral vision are so gorgeous. Let’s take a moment to compare this experience to another website that offers a similar set of features.

Vacation Rentals By Owner9

Vacation Rentals By Owner10 (VRBO) helps you accomplish a goal similar to that of Airbnb’s users, which is to book destinations with individual owners. Honestly, VRBO does not make this process difficult, and its inclusion here is not meant to imply “Never do this.” The steps are the same (destination, arrival and departure dates, guests, etc.), and its design does not hinder the user from completing this process. However, the difference in experience between the two websites is drastic.

The primary difference is that Airbnb has done a wonderful job of presenting its primary content (the places) beautifully. The large pictures of the very pretty places gets us excited about our trip and about the sort of unique residences we could stay in. Because of the pretty things we immediately see on Airbnb’s home page, our entire experience is enhanced. Even if the process of booking a place to stay is no harder or easier on Airbnb, more people are likely to come back or share this resource with their friends because of the positive and memorable influence of the pretty images and interface. The unique style of Airbnb translates into measurable results in the form of a noticeably lower reliance on search traffic and a higher percentage of direct and repeat traffic.

The Industrial Age Is Over

There was a time when design was a secondary consideration for the products we used and the services we enjoyed. This mostly came about during the Industrial Revolution, and it could be argued that we relived a similar mentality through the Information Age. Both of these eras share a common theme of production on a large and affordable scale. We found ourselves constantly inventing a new mouse trap, except that it didn’t have to be a better mouse trap if it could be a cheaper one. So long as your table, automobile, computer software or thermostat had a utility and was affordable, it was good enough.

Nest Thermostat11

If you have the pleasure of living in a developed country, it should be obvious to you that times have changed and this no longer applies. Why did the Nest thermostat12 make such a huge splash online? Because finally we have a device that can automatically control the temperature in our home? For years we have longed for something that allows us to regulate the temperature where we live! Sorry, but we’ve had these things. In fact, hundreds of these things exist. But that’s precisely why Nest took off: it was the same thing done again but with real design this time.

Sure, it’s important that the Nest makes it easy to program the temperature in your house, which is an element of “good design” in the sense that designers love. The controls are simple, and it’s super-easy to understand, read and use. I would argue, though, that all of this is secondary to the fact that the Nest looks really cool. Perhaps you would scoff at the statement that looking cool is more important than being easy to use. But the fact is that this thermostat will spend most of its life not being touched and not being interacted with in any way. It’s a thermostat, so what will people do with it almost 100% of the time? They’ll look at it.

We see this in industries beyond home décor. It wasn’t long ago that the US automotive industry was in a nose dive for the crapper. This shouldn’t have been much of a surprise because the industry was built on Henry Ford’s principle of mass production on a cheap, repeating, large scale. As the world moved away from affordable necessities to desirable luxuries, the car industry needed to move with it or go broke. In the early 2000s, automotive juggernaut General Motors rehired Robert Lutz13, the man who would rewrite the script on how GM made cars. Lutz ditched the industrial mentality of GM and started to imbue his own opinion of cars, saying, “I believe very deeply in the automobile as an art form.” Since then, GM has transitioned from manufacturing cars to designing them.

Looking around, you can see that making things pretty is going from being an afterthought to being an integral part of our lives. We have reached the point where making something affordable yet high in quality is second-nature. Look no further than the content we curate in our social media profiles today to get a prime example of the difference design makes.

The Internet is becoming a culture of hoarding; with Pinterest14, Instagram15, Facebook16, Twitter17 and websites like Dribbble18 and 500px19, a premium has been put on building a digital collection of things. We share the food we eat, the places we go, the clothes we want to buy and the gadgets we love. Often the primary requirement for sharing these things with our social networks is that they stand out visually. They need to be unique, stylish and well designed… they need to be pretty. As discussed earlier, all of these qualities build a connection between who we are and the products we love. In order to create a product or website of extraordinary value to the millions of digital curators out there, we need to invest in aesthetics that reflect well on those same users.

Put Pretty Into Practice

The landscape of the Web is not so different from that of thermostats or cars. If anything, its resources are over-abundant. Any task you might want to accomplish online either has been done thousands of times or can be easily duplicated after the fact. When users have limitless options and limited time, design is the deciding factor in what makes one experience more worthwhile than another. So, don’t cringe when “pretty” is included as a design requirement, because it should always be. When we make a design pretty, we are deliberately basing our design choices on aesthetic value. A pretty design has a visceral impact on the user and prompts an emotional response.

Designers who ignore the potential impact of prettiness on their work are at risk of being surpassed by peers who share their skill set but who appreciate the role of beauty. Pretty design isn’t just for Dribbble. Your clients, customers and users all stand to gain a lot from that extra coat of paint. A user’s personality can be imbued, however slightly, by the work done by a designer merely by association. I implore you to keep work from leaving your desk until you have had time to make it pretty.

Additional Reading

(al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/PrettyPhone.jpg
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/sketchNotes.jpg
  3. 3 http://rohdesign.com
  4. 4 http://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/display.asp?id=6303
  5. 5 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/sexyCar.jpg
  6. 6 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/newsArticles.jpg
  7. 7 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/airbnb.jpg
  8. 8 https://www.airbnb.com/
  9. 9 http://www.vrbo.com/
  10. 10 http://www.vrbo.com/
  11. 11 http://www.nest.com/
  12. 12 http://www.nest.com/
  13. 13 http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/05/business/gm-executive-preaches-sweat-the-smallest-details.html
  14. 14 http://pinterest.com/
  15. 15 http://instagram.com/
  16. 16 https://www.facebook.com/
  17. 17 https://twitter.com/
  18. 18 http://dribbble.com/
  19. 19 http://500px.com/
  20. 20 http://www.amazon.com/Whole-New-Mind-Right-Brainers-Future/dp/1594481717
  21. 21 http://www.alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofeyecandy/

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Jason Gross is a freelance web designer focused on creating clean and user friendly websites. Jason currently lives in Indiana and can be found on Twitter as @JasonAGross or on the web at his personal blog and portfolio.

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  1. 1

    Stopped reading after this line:

    “To be completely honest, I’m in my 20s, so I don’t really know what people did to book places to stay before the Internet, but it had to be terrible.”

    What does a narrow minded comment like this have to do with the article at hand? I hope this was a failed attempt at humor.

    However if this is not a joke consider the following: If things before the internet were terrible then I guess you don’t use any type that was invented before the internet or get inspired by design styles that existed before the internet cause, well, they were terrible right?

    -29
    • 2

      Markus Unterwaditzer

      August 24, 2012 5:06 pm

      If things before the internet were terrible then I guess you don’t use any type that was invented before the internet or get inspired by design styles that existed before the internet cause, well, they were terrible right?

      With “terrible”, the author didn’t claim that the things before the internet were ugly, he said they were harder to use than the tools we have available now.

      Yes, that was an unneccessary sentence, but the only one. You should read the rest of the article. It’s not that long anyway.

      25
      • 3

        Things weren’t harder to use cause you didn’t “use” them. You visited a travel agent, looked at publications and booked Trips online.

        I will give the article a re-read tough.

        3
        • 4

          He doesn’t say thing were harder to use, he says booking must have been more of a pain before the internet.

          1
    • 5

      Then that was a real shame, I got so much benefit from the rest of the article.

      7
    • 6

      Pierre,

      I’m sorry that my horrible jokes turned you off to the article. I can assure you I am equally entertaining on a day to day basis. However, the hilarious comment is referring to the process of booking a hotel room in the days before the internet, not to the state of the entire planet pre-internet. I believe it was and continues to be a wonderful place, with or without the internet.

      26
      • 7

        Appreciate you taking the time to reply. I did suspect you were attempting humor. I can attest your reply to my reply did make me chuckle a little so we’re making progress! ha.

        Like another commenter mentioned, booking a room was not harder or easier pre internet. It was just different and more personal, you visited a travel agent, and received personalized service.

        With that context, here’s a point that came to mind and likely why your sentence created a reaction. In your article you mention Airbnb being popular quickly. You attribute that to being due to the design and asthetic. That’s part of why but it’s also because it brings some personality back to trip planning. The use of photography lends something personal to the process, that’s done via the design and asthetics so I agree with you there.

        But it goes also deeper than that. In the past people used travel agents not just because it was easier to select a trip but also because it provided a personal touch, a level of individual service to the process. In your article you speak at lengths about the value of asthetics but those asthetics in many cases are simply bringing back personal touches to systems and interfaces that stripped the personal away.

        By understanding the past, in this case how people booked trips. You can pick out the good points of that older process, and merge them into today’s technology. Lots of what is good ascetics/ux is deemed good cause it feels comfortable. It’s bringing that personal touch back to technology.

        Only by understanding where we’ve come from can we find the best in both and make online services better.

        And that’s why I’m critical of anything (even in humor) dismissing “old ways” of doing things. Much of what we do today is more “efficient” but it lacks the interpersonal aspects that existed.

        Fundamentally I agree with many of the points you make. I just want to be certain we don’t encourage the mentality that everything new is just better. We can learn a lot from the past.

        16
        • 8

          I appreciate your change in attitude/tone regarding this article Pierre, I really do, but when you say:

          ” booking a room was not harder or easier pre internet. It was just different and more personal, you visited a travel agent, and received personalized service.”

          To me that’s not just different, but IS harder…

          I had to get up, be properly dressed for public, properly hygiened for public, hop in my car, drive, wait, talk to someone vs. get on the internet and do it. Seems to me like perviously took much more time and more more inconvenience. And to me inconvenience is harder.

          “Click this button to go to this site” vs. “Click this button to go to a site cluttered with ads with a link in the middle to the site you actually want to go to”

          1 step easier than 2.

          But I do agree with you about personal touch. Personal touch can be added to, to keep on the same subject, travel agent websites for example, but they can still be easier to use than previous methods as before. I agree personal touch is important, but sometimes quickness & ease of use trumps personal touch. But if you can do both, you’re golden.

          4
        • 9

          Pierre, thought you had stopped reading after the first line? : )

          The opening line, and indeed the article, comments on how easy it can be to do things today when the tools and services to do them are designed, adding value.

          I take it, there’s some sarcasm regarding how often designers get asked to “make things pretty”, rather than being asked to actually design.

          The Nest, for instance, looks pretty sophisticated because it reflects the sophisticated & thorough planning behind it. In thorough design, one thing begets the other.

          0
    • 10

      I honestly beg to differ, the comment has some truth to it. Not to mention deserved the smile I gave it in return.

      That one line, like it or not, did not add or detract from the article, except for pushing away a couple readers. The rest of the article was well written and quite plainly describes a large factor to the success of some of our most modern web tools.

      “Any task you might want to accomplish online either has been done thousands of times or can be easily duplicated after the fact. When users have limitless options and limited time, design is the deciding factor in what makes one experience more worthwhile than another.” – Well said, and simply a deciding factor in the hundreds of different tools I use on a regular basis.

      3
    • 11

      I smell something that smells like a grammar nazi?

      -1
    • 12

      Just a rebuttal from the 20s crowd – I DO remember booking hotels before the internet and it was pretty simple. All you had to do was call around!

      1
      • 13

        I’m in my early twenties and I also remember how it was to book a vacation and what-not.

        I wouldn’t say it was “hard”, I would say that it’s easier to do so nowadays because of the internet. I believe that was the author’s point: To state that the internet has made what were fairly “trivial” tasks already even easier and quicker than before.

        2
    • 14

      Booking trips WAS terrible before the internet! The comment is accurate, not narrow-minded. (He isn’t saying all design was terrible before the internet.)

      1
    • 15

      Well, maybe you could have invested your time in reading on instead of making this “narrow minded comment”…

      -1
    • 16

      Whether it was meant to be humor or not, I do not know, but I think it was clear that he was referring to booking places to stay before the internet to be terrible.

      0
    • 17

      Pierre – I’m afraid you act like a narrow minded person. He was talking only about the booking proccess – which had to be a lot more complicated before the internet.

      1
  2. 18

    Just to tell you: Before the internet people used to go to a travel agency – told them where and how long they would like to stay, how much money they wanted to spend, if they preferred a hotel or a youth hostel, if they wanted to have a pool or a room with a view … just as on any form you would use one a travelling site. The main difference: the man or woman at the desk would have given you a personal and indivual advice and you wouldn’t have to scroll through hundreds of useless search results and waste evenings arguing with your wife which of the results woud fit best … I’m in my 40s. I know both and know what. A lot of people around me rely on the experience of travel agencies after having the experience of self-booking a couple of years …

    17
  3. 19

    Jason,

    I both agree and disagree with points in your article. I fully agree that aesthetics do play a large role in establishing trust and credibility (studies for everything from gas stations pumps to automobiles back this up). But, your final statement that “When users have limitless options and limited time, design is the deciding factor in what makes one experience more worthwhile than another” is overly generalized as a deciding factor. Ultimately, knowing your audience and what they decide will be the deciding factor is the deciding factor.

    In your example comparison between VRBO and AIRBNB, choice and selection play a huge role in decision making and while AIRBNB may have slightly more visual appeal on the landing page, when it comes to selection, VRBO generally has about 5-10 times the amount of results to choose from that AIRBNB does. For folks for whom this matters, this makes a big difference.

    3
    • 20

      Ryan, I see what your’re getting at. There are definitely several sites that do the same thing as AIRBNB, yet the place where I made my last booking was AIRBNB. Not sure if it was the design or not, or the fact that we’re in the design space, that makes us prefer those kind of sites.

      Maybe AIRBNB should put up pictures of pretty women on their homepage and A/B test the results. Maybe that works, just like in the car advertisement ;)

      3
  4. 22

    I read this as… Mr Gross-“Raaarrr I’ze an angry designer, stop making pretty, keep making pretty”.

    This is an issue with stigma and english social norms. Designer emcompasses many a thing, well thought out working foundations AND/OR style.
    It you requested for Fashion Web Designer finding a person for making pretty would have better results who and what you will get.
    However instead we have the overused moniker “Ninja…” Ninja means nothing. Ninjas were farmers and assassins. What about the Noble Swordsman Samurai?

    Two designers sitting in a tree, what will they disagree to be?

    I’m going nowhere with this.

    -8
  5. 23

    Andrew Richardson

    August 24, 2012 6:40 pm

    I feel like pretty is a poor word for what we are trying to describe here.

    It feels cheap.

    It implies the image of the phone case you posted not an elegant, simple UX that celebrates the user by making it easy to access content. That is our goal and it’s our job to make sure the “pretty” doesn’t get out of control because if there’s too much “pretty” it quickly becomes ugly.

    Take the example of the news sites you posted. One is pretty, but only because there are only a few things trying to be pretty, the photography and the typography. It’s obvious there was painstaking measures taken to NOT make everything pretty but to let the photography breath and soar in the hierarchy and allowing the content be readable and legible by not crowding it with excess information.

    The other website, in contrast, is a result of everything trying to be pretty. Social sharing buttons compete with ads which compete with copy which competes with other article links, and so on… Everything is trying so hard to be “pretty” and without something stepping aside and saying “I’ll be a little ugly so you can shine” the whole design suffers greatly.

    Pretty isn’t the right word for what we are trying to describe here. Lets try to find something else.

    6
    • 24

      You’re right that pretty isn’t the word here, but that’s really the point of this article. Design isn’t about making things pretty it is about making things work.

      The two articles work and fails, not because of being “pretty” but because of considerate design. The left one work because there is a hierachy and a clear structure, when your viewing that page you are supposed to read/view the article, it would work equally well with bad photos. The right one focus on too many things leaving no clear focus, while at the same time offering tons of distractions. It doesn’t have anything to do with one thing being pretty or not.

      Websites, as an extension of publication design, work well when he overall visual structure has been considered. What should the reader/viewer see/interact with first? Second? Third? And so on. Which is the entire point of this article, design is NOT about making things pretty (that’s just the byproduct), is IS about making things work well.

      2
  6. 25

    I like the point you make about the Nest thermostat. Although without a source to cite from, I’m not entirely sure you can definitively state that good design and ease of use is what made it successful. However, one can argue though that home owners care about style.

    2
  7. 26

    I really think when people speak for the designers and say they will make it pretty just don’t know what kind of language to use. It’s usually said in the context of something is not pretty YET. It’s just an easy way for a client to describe a desirable appearance. I usually interpret it as “The designer will do his / her job and we will be satisfied with the result”.

    I’m sure designers would prefer the word “beautiful” because it describes a more comprehensie form and elegance – not just appearance but an entire experience. Code can be beautiful too. I think when a client wants something “prettied up”, they hope for beautiful, not cheap and forgetful as it seems many designers interpret it that way.

    -2
  8. 27

    Yes, i enjoy this site as well! It give me the chance to open my own. Hopefully will make users to visit my website

    -3
  9. 28

    Dalibor Vasiljevic

    August 25, 2012 10:28 am

    Oh, I had a huge discussion with some of my friends about this. Design is relative, but a good taste is a good taste. However, nice one!

    Dalibor Vasiljevic,
    Founder

    -5
  10. 29

    There is nothing gorgeous about Airbnb, its simply chaotic…

    -3
  11. 30

    What I don’t like about the article is that the author seems to think of design as something that may be “added” to a product as a bonus value for people who are willing to pay for it. I know that this is a common conception of design but it strikes me that a designer doesn’t find this completely wring. Great design is only possible where engineering and design is interwoven closely. A product that is well-designed in this sense will always be beautiful, long-living, functional and as affordable as the production costs permit (at least for the manufacturer). “Making something pretty” in the sense of coating a cake with a layer of icing is not design, it is simply styling. I recommend Bruno Munari’s “Design as Art” on the topic of styling vs. design.

    0
  12. 31

    Design is not about making something pretty, I think we agree on that.

    Perhaps I’m utilitarian, but I think design is about reaching a certain goal.

    I don’t perceive – or I think I don’t perceive – devices looking “prettier” as better: in fact, most of the examples you brought to me (esp. the Nest thermostat) seem inferior to me, exactly because they’re pretty: perhaps I’ve just met so many well-crafted, useless stuff over the years, that I trust in bulky devices more.

    I think that the reason why Dieter Rahm’s designs were popular is that they didn’t want to be pretty. In fact, a white kitchen appliance recedes to the background.

    Personally I feel the old Macbook Pro design was also better: it was less pretty, it looked much more utilitiarian, which brought me the message of a trustable workhorse: and exactly that’s what I’m using a macbook pro for.

    Facebook looks spartan compared to some of its contemporaries (like, bebo), even compared to twitter. I like its design better: for me, the prettiness of twitter just tries to hide some kind of emptiness.

    That said, I’m an engineer. I design utilitarian devices for people to use. My people feel the design well-crafted if it’s “just the way it should be”: if you know at once where to click, if everything is about the task at hand, there’s no additional fluff, there are no disturbing elements, from underlining links to badly-chosen fonts, to layouts to interaction design…

    So perhaps it’s just me. But for me, and some of my friends, pretty doesn’t sell well.

    3
    • 32

      I agree that things don’t have to better just because they look good but many people judge a book by it’s cover.

      So many things in this world are judged on their looks alone. Today’s marketing is all about advertising something that stands out, you can make your campaign look more interesting by making it “pretty” or even by making it “ugly” but if somebody associates “ugly” with something it tends not to be a good thing.

      I’ve always believed design is, in short, one part function and one part looks.

      A good product has to be functional for anyone to want to use and continue using it, but making the same product look good as well can attract people to start using it in the first place.

      It doesn’t -have- to be but based off common marketing trends and desires people have commonly expressed it would be reasonable to believe that the average person likes something that looks just as good as it functions, if not more, so making something that looks good goes hand-in-hand with making something that works great, too.

      There’s nothing saying you can’t design something to be both functional and to look good and to have the aesthetics tie in with the functionality. In fact, a good designer should be doing both of these things anyway.

      0
  13. 33

    Edited: I was going to be critical, but life’s too short. Have a great day everyone.

    4
  14. 34

    the design community has graduated from the pretty principle to less visual but supposedly more impactful measures

    Yes, that happened around 50 years ago.

    3
  15. 35

    God this web site is f**king gorgeous.

    -3
  16. 36

    Oh my god this was a horrible, self-indulgent piece of unevolved opinion. I thought like this when I was 23 and fresh out of college. That’s probably how old the author is as well if he doesn’t remember what life was like without the internet.

    The best designers make things functional and pretty and don’t need to talk about it. It’s just how they work!

    4
  17. 37

    Investing yourself into the aesthetic beauty of your work, whether it is a website, car, gadget, piece of fine art, or architecture, is an important, if not the most important, aspect of todays design world. No longer is simply having your finished product function properly the most important end goal. From a user standpoint, quality of design is held equal the functionality of the product, and both should be developed respectively. Our work needs to reflect the true design beauty that we as humans have developed over time.

    Take the iphone or any of Apple’s products for example, even though there are some pieces of internal functionality that fall short in comparison to other products Apple’s competitors offer (Driod, Samsung, etc.) an average user may never realize or even care, because the beautiful design and well thought-out packaging is held paramount in a users mind when they first pick up one of Apples products. And that first impression is the last and most important experience that a person refers to when making the decision of what product to purchase.

    0
  18. 38

    I think Donald Norman, the author of the classic, “The Design of Everyday Things”, went over this concept about ten years ago in his book Emotional Design.

    1
  19. 39

    “The unique style of Airbnb translates into measurable results in the form of a noticeably lower reliance on search traffic and a higher percentage of direct and repeat traffic.”

    You can’t really know this without having access to analytics data from both sites.

    3
  20. 40

    Fisheye Interactive

    September 5, 2012 1:44 pm

    Hi Jason,

    Nice article i must say. I belong to a web development company myself, that how i got driven by the topic of your article. But here when you said designers don’t like preety designs.. what do you mean by that. As in of course some business want a professional look but it is according to the business you are in. Different types of business have different requirement and thus different demands. We at Fisheye Interactive, design websites according to the necessity of the business and its type.

    0
  21. 41

    Telling a designer to “make it pretty” is like telling a chef to “make it taste good”. To me, it always feels like an insult, even if it is well intentioned.

    0
  22. 42

    Judging by the article cover image, the title should be:

    “The designer will make it look gaudy and cheap”.

    0
  23. 43

    “It’s a thermostat, so what will people do with it almost 100% of the time? They’ll look at it.”

    No. They’ll *ignore* it…

    …So it may as well be half the price, twice the ugly, and out of sight.

    0

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