Evil Within: Form Follows Function

May 28, 2013

“Form Follows Function”… or so they said

The early 1930’s phrase was intended to evoke the mantra that before you design and work with the details, you need to lay out the function first. Thankfully Frank Lloyd Wright changed this phrase to “form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union,” using nature as the best example of this integration. Form and Function should be developed simultaneously and in conjunction with each other.

Our Own Brand Of Pretty

The world is made up of individuals, not one of them is perfectly alike. I have mentioned in previous posts (Your Brand Isn’t You) that humans draw from past experiences and memories to help make connections with the present situation. In the study of consumer behavior, they refer to this as the associative network.

Arguably, the number one rule of marketing is “You are not your audience“. As a designer, I can’t design what I think is cool or trendy because the situation hardly ever calls for what I want to design. We each have our “own brand of pretty”. I am a big advocate of the brands created by Red Bull, Go Pro, and Burton. These brands speak to me, and their style speaks to me.

Do you believe that the owners and designers of Lovemeow.com have the same passion for Red Bull and Burton? Taking one look at the websites will tell you that we all have our own brand of pretty.

Developing Form And Function

Your brand is much more than the product or service you offer. People experience brands with all 5 senses, and with these senses, in combination with your associative network, we come to give your brand a personality.

Why is it important to understand your brand personality? Why should you care?
Stephen Anderson of A List Apart says we should care because:

  1. People identify with (or avoid) certain personalities.
  2. Trust is related to personality.
  3. Perception and expectations are linked with personality.
  4. Consumers “choose” products that are an extension of themselves.
  5. We treat sufficiently advanced technology as though it were human.

If your website is cluttered, using default fonts, default link colors, and grungy brown color palettes… be prepared to have people view your website (as well as brand and owners) as crazy, smelly, cat loving, horders.

A Package From Google

I recently received a sweet package in the mail from Google that contained a packet for business developers. As I nerd out here, allow me to walk you through this experience Google prepared for me.

Package Arrives On My Desk
Immediately I know this not an ordinary USPS or FedEx box. There is no brown cardboard, no torn edges, no smashed corners. At this point my interest is peaked and I am feeling excited and filled with anticipation to see what the package contains.

A Clean Presentation
When I slipped the box out of its shipping packaging, the material (like thin cutting board plastic) feels heavy duty. Even this shipping package material was custom made for the box.

Great Use Of Color
As I pop out the tabs and open the box, I can see how sharp and crisp the lines and folds are. The package itself is made of cardboard but it’s not the cheap stuff, you can’t see any corrugated ridges. I also notice the reason why I didn’t hear anything shaking around inside. Each item in the box has its own custom compartment that kept its contents in place.

The colors pop out and catch my eye. The first thing I see are the cards each with their own color on top. I popped out the contents and I look through each of the cards.

The inside cover has text printed straight onto the box. Being that I know a little bit about package design, I know that printing on large set printers isn’t an easy task and takes tedious consideration. Again, the colors look great, the fonts are easy to read and I can visually digest each piece of information.

As I finish up looking through each of the content pieces, I can’t help but feel amazed. It screams professional, clean, straight to the point, and reliable. The most important thing to take away here is this: These feelings in turn help me solidify my view of Google.

Eye Candy Matters

Pulling again from Stephen Anderson

… Aesthetics is concerned with anything that appeals to the senses—not just what we see, but what we hear, smell, taste, and feel. In short, how we perceive and interpret the world. As user experience professionals, we must consider every stimulus that might influence interactions.

Perhaps more importantly, “aesthetics examines our affective domain response to an object or phenomenon”. In other words, aesthetics is not just about the artistic merit of web buttons or other visual effects, but about how people respond to these elements.

Before you approach your next design task, consider the feeling that you would like to evoke from the creative deliverable. The feelings and potential experiences should be considered along side the intended call to action and goal of the deliverable.

Thinking only of the numeric goal, whether it be # of software sales or new subscribers, is going to put you out of business. Brand attributes such as trust, personality, and perception will outperform pure function.

Check out this video titled “Microsoft Re-Designs the Ipod Packaging”. It is not an Apple enthusiast made production, believe it or not, it was developed by an internal marketing team AT Microsoft to say “What is wrong with us?”


In Defense of Eye Candy – by STEPHEN P. ANDERSON

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