Fuck function. Lets make design pretty again.
I really mean it. Fuck function, there, I said it again.
OK, I don’t really mean it, but stay with me, I got a point…
Not only is beauty so disregarded in the age of digital design, I feel that it is also misjudged by the design community.
I like to design pretty things, I like to post it on Dribbble, or to look at what other designers are jamming, from weather app concepts and dashboards with sexy gradients, to Youtube and Facebook redesigns that just look gooooood. I look at it and think…
“It’s just beautiful and I love it.”
“Just a beautiful UI that doesn’t make sense at all and I love it.”
“It’s nothing but pretty; Beauty is the entire purpose.”
But wait a minute… Should I feel ashamed? Why? Oh, you think design should be merely functional? Since when did creating beautiful things become a crime?
“The crime? Accused of doing nothing but being pretty, just sitting there and showing off your style while everyone else is offering some real value”.
I’m being radical to make a point…we forgot something along the way.
Maybe we forgot to have fun? We had it when we were kids. Remember? That thing we used to do, when we were able to see pure moments of joy in everything.
Why did we become such functional junkies? The modern world, the market, and especially what the startup culture demands, and we, designers, want to work with startups, we want to touch their success, so we speak their language. What language is that ? Code. Code. Code. 010101010. Function.
We research, make personas, user flows, A/B tests, checklists and feedback loops, we follow tasks and deliver stuff. We are creating something. Instead of creating something amazing.
“Stop making it pretty! Let’s make this thing work!”
“I am not developing this small micro-interaction because I have to deliver, and anyway, it works fine.”
“It’s very pretty, but is it also usable?” (I hate this one the most, as if the one competes with the other. Well, it’s doesn’t.)
This is wrong and it will kill us in the long-term. I’ve been fed up with this mindset for a while but I am not buying this anymore, it’s not enough for me, I want more.
This is not being human. And by all means, I’m not saying that function isn’t important, I’m not saying functionality shouldn’t come first, because it should. Beauty and functionality live together in peace in the designer’s toolbox since they both serve the same purpose. Beauty makes people happy, because they start to feel. And your users, believe it or not, are also people with feelings.
I want to keep this mindset to myself and the funny thing is… I don’t have to do much, because real and pure beauty is the side effect of good design anyway. Yup, if you are doing great design work today, you are already making beautiful things.
Does your design solve a real problem? Good. But it might not be enough.
Does your design communicate with real people? Actual people, not companies or business entities, but real humans. Is it in a language they understand? And I’m not talking only about text or icons, but a real human-centric approach.
Can it be that beauty is one of the functions that are necessary for a successful product?
There is beauty in everything that is created with love and care. And people can sense it, ordinary people (not designers, they are something else), and this is the reason why we should put love, care and beauty into our design.
In the right doses. Just like in relationships, and everything else in life.