Delight and function — A designer’s inner thoughts
It seems to be a good time to know design. A good time to talk about design.A good time to be delusional about knowing design.
Design buzzwords seem to be thrown around often these days — delightful experiences, clean minimalistic design, functional design, effective design, flat design and so on.
Technical managers no longer engineer a solution. They design it.
Organizations are not built anymore. They are designed to function the way they do.
Stand up comedians do not write their sketches. They design the comical experiences that are weaved intricately in their performance.
But all said and done, nothing seems to shake off the stickiness of the D-word. Delight. The founders love it, the designers love it, the product management loves it.
And this little human can only feel it. Just like all your product users should.
Another word that has been around for quite a while, is function. The One Quote To Rule Them All. “Hey, you. Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” The founders love it, the product management have a love-hate relationship towards it, the business team overkills it and the quotes people on Pinterest go ape-shit crazy over it.
Yeah, naah. Sod off.
Let me explain with some deep psychology shit. You know, designers should learn from psychology and other random stuff? Here’s the psychology. I’ll hit the stuff later.
Designing for delight is a jointly exhaustive dichotomy. It means that what you create will eventually divide you into 2 parts — two nearly-bipolar parts that simultaneously love and despise your creation. The components of delightful designs are abstract and are hard to quantify.
Like a glass of perfectly blended scotch-whiskey. You may speak about the rich scents, the aroma, the flavor and yada yada. But it is something else that delights you. And you don’t know what it is.
Designing for functionality is a mutually exhaustive dichotomy. It means that your creation will be made of many little parts. Parts that have a specific beginning and a specific role to play. Each part will feed into the next and eventually build the robust working of your creation.
Like the best gear system you know. Gears perfectly aligned, the teeth perfectly fit. Oil that bad boy well and you will run the machine a few times just to see the gears lock into one another and churn in the revs.
So why choose delight over functionality or functionality over delight? Can you choose at all? In a world filled with good looking apps, the stickiest ones are the ones that work well. And often. There is nothing more sorry than the good looking app you downloaded 3 months back and have used only a couple of times and achieved no real goal.
I think Amazon is a rock-solid example of functionality over delight. Why? Coz the only delight you feel is when receive your order. 100% of the time Amazon works everytime.
The D and the F are two separate entities, clearly.
Can they be merged? Definitely — that’s how products are built. The right mix of the left and the right brained thinkers.
Can you prioritize one over the other? Yes. At different stages of the project lifecycle — different approaches need to be taken. The conversation may go on these lines:
“Hey, you. Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
“Oh yeah? But it’s also the way it looks. We’ve ensured how well it works in the previous sprint. Now, go get me a cold beer.”
More on the D/F conundrum to follow.
Let me get a cold beer now.