Bad Function = Bad Form (and vice versa)
I’ve been pondering the question of why form always seems to lag behind function, particularly as it pertains to the digital world. As a designer I’ve always tried to marry the two from the get-go but always leading with function first. It’s the responsible thing to do. After all, bad function = bad form, no matter how pretty you paint the picture. But why does form always seem to be an afterthought?
The speed at which technology is evolving is so skewed toward function that form seems to become the redheaded stepchild. Is it because the digital world is dominated by left-brained luminaries (technologists, programmers, strategists)? Is technology evolving so quickly that the right-brainers don’t have a chance to make the technology visually appealing? Is it because the new generation (Millenials) don’t have an appreciation or time for visually appealing solutions and high production values? Case in point, the 80’s are back. Pull out your day glow sweatshirt and wake me up before you go go. Run! Or is it just all of the above?
At the end of the day, it seems that form and function always meet down the road but would be better served by traveling together. Myspace, although vastly popular, was fugly but is now prettying themselves up. Youtube video quality was always poor and is now getting sharper. Ebay, a popular mess for years, is cleaning up their visual act. And I would say Facebook has always been the winner because they practiced form and function from the beginning. As it pertains to being social, online or off, don’t the beautiful people always get more attention? Sad but true.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe form is just a matter of hanging ornaments and window dressing onto function. Rather, I’m saying it’s an important part of the user experience, Ego and DNA of the product or brand that should be incorporated from the very start (Branding). Time and space should be made for form and the end result will always be more successful, and at the very least, better looking.
What do you think?
Do you have great examples of form & function in the digital world? (not Apple)