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Stefan Tilkov wonders why so many companies fail at product design. It's much the same reason most software companies fail at usability - they don't try. Good design is sufficiently intangible as to be regarded as surplus to selling something. It's not obvious to many people how good design contributes to the bottom line.

Most of the expenditure that could possibly go into design is usually channeled into marketing. Marketing has two distinct advantages over design:

  • A manipulation of statistics that is second to none. Stats and charts are the crack cocaine of business people the world over.
  • An inherently cynical view of people (most designers are Panglossian in comparison).

One designer with a good retort to the charms of marketing is Lord Conran. He has always taken the view that most people don't really know what they want until you show it to them, which neatly invalidates 90% of all marketing. One way to improve matters is to decide to buy and use beautiful things. Most people don't and our markets are not oriented to value non-disposables. But to some degree I think it's true that most people do not look for some measure of quality, they look for some measure of value.

May 23, 2004 09:31 PM


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