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App Designer Says: Make It Useful First, Then Pretty

Submitted by on November 25, 2012 – 3:37 pmNo Comment
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Mobile computing may be pushing technology into a brave new world, but some things never change. In an op-ed for TechCrunch, product designer Chloe Bregman tackles a debate as old as philosophy: which comes first, form or function?

For Bregman, a woman whose career is built on making apps pretty, the answer is somewhat surprisingly, “function.”

“‘[P]retty first’ is the wrong approach,” she writes. “If your product is not useful and engaging, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is.”

To make her point, Bregman quotes arguably the most influential man in tech design in the last twenty years, Steve Jobs:  “Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”

Bregman emphasizes user testing as early as possible, saying that getting an app into the hands of testers could prevent months of work on a dead-end feature. She also assuages design fears by pointing out that with programs like Balsamiq and Twitter Bootstrap, it is easier than ever to make a minimally attractive app once you have your program.

I totally understand Bregman’s point, but also sympathize with those sweating over design and appearances. In any competitive market, one does not want to give consumers any excuse not to choose your product. How many of us have turned away from a website because their GeoCities layout just didn’t seem trustworthy, no matter how functional it might have been?

What do you think?

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