Can over-designing things become a problem?
We like pretty things. I get that.
We like the restaurant to be clean and inviting. Easy to understand.
But where do you draw the line? Where do you find a balance between pretty and functional?
I struggle with finding this balance my work. I want to use data to make a decision and not just my gut feeling.
I am a computer nerd. I design software, I write code, and I take pride in my work. But I am often faced with this dilemma:
Should I invest more in software design or graphic design when working on a project?
Nobody will use a pretty app that is not working.
I think we can all agree on that.
At the other extreme, some people will use an ugly app because it solves a big problem reliably.
But I want to do better and find some middle ground.
Good software design improves stability and performance. Makes maintenance easier, thus reducing the costs.
Good graphic design makes the user experience more comfortable. Reduces the learning curve and makes your application more widespread.
So how do you split your budget? Is it 50/50? Or should you focus more on performance, for example?
The more I think about this, the more I realize that your target audience is the one that will dictate what your focus should be.
If you have software that helps people to solve a big problem, probably nobody will care that it is ugly, not intuitive, and incredibly awkward to use. If they are desperate for a solution, they will accept one, no matter how it is delivered.
On the other hand, if you are talking about a game with bubbles… well those need to be some pretty bubbles to keep the audience engaged. In the case of games, you are not after a solution; you are after an “experience of play.”
How does this apply to websites?
I guess if your offer solves a significant problem, you can be forgiven if your site’s design is still from the 90s. But if there is a lot of competition, then a good design may help you stand out.
And this word “may” is where the problem comes in for me. How can I quantify it in terms of a website goal? It is intuitive to think that a good design will increase sales, but you also need to know how much? You need to have some idea of how close you will get to your end goal, so you know how much you are willing to invest in that good design.
Designers are very excited to make things pretty, to make them pop, to make them unique. And I understand that. You are making art, and you want it to be beautiful. But is it really useful?
I fall into this trap myself with software when I over-design something just for the pleasure of creating a “perfect design.” But in the end, that does not benefit the client all that much. There are so many examples with people doing very well, by using poorly designed tools.
They’re also amazing designs, both software, and graphic, that nobody uses.
To help make this decision more comfortable (and profitable), I’d like to know a way to quantify the benefits of excellent graphic design. Any thoughts?