Sorry, People Do Not Buy Products because They Look Good

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One of the most important and significant things that I have learnt in the last few years working with businesses is that people don’t buy your products just because they look good. People buy your products because it benefits them; or it has something that is of value to them.

That’s right. Good Design is really more about providing benefits and less about aesthetics.

Now as designers, this is actually a very hard thing for us to wrap our mind around, as it goes against the very fundamentals of our profession. As such, if we don’t add identifying benefits to our consciousness when we design, we will naturally fall back into our old ways.

Granted that a product might look so good that we just love it or perhaps we buy it just because we enjoy its beauty. But such situations happen few and far between, unless you are buying a piece of art. But we are not talking about art here.

Lets look at this in another way. If you have two products that look equally good, you would probably go for the one that either makes more sense to you or provides you with better value (not always monetary). Unfortunately this is the harsh reality of the design industry today.

We now live in a world where good design is abundant, and just making something look good is not enough. You have to imbue it with a meaning that resonates with the user. Easier said than done, as designers do not realize that by simply saying “having a good design will allow you to sell more products at a higher price” actually starts the designer sliding down a slippery slope.

Here are a few more thoughts about what happens when designers forget about benefits:

1) The Design becomes easy to copy.

2) If you are lucky, the Design does well, but it quickly runs out of style.

3) The Design’s aesthetic becomes very subjective.

4) The Design fails to resonate with the target user and will very likely miss the mark.

Pick a great product and think about why it works well and what it does for you? Why do we use iPads when there are tons of other more powerful alternatives? Not only that, why do you keep on coming back to it, or even better still, recommend it to your friend?

Now it starts to get interesting.

If you can understand how products you love resonate with you, you’ll start to see why identifying benefits are important to your design. Suddenly, aesthetics now play a much different role. They have become a language, a language to communicate meaningful value to your user.

Image by: Jordanhill School D&T Dept

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