Good Design, like pornography, may be hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Usually. Although the way something looks (appearance) figures prominently in virtually every form of design, what you see may not be all you get. When things that look great are hard to use or don’t perform well, some might claim that’s because you’re not reading the directions. We say it’s bad design.
This is not to discredit either the ‘value of appearance’ nor the ‘appearance of value.’ First impressions are important to assessing the actual value of something. But, beyond appearance is the broader concept of perception. Seen more broadly, Good Design focuses on all the dimensions that impact the perception of value, in addition to the appearance of value.
Dimensions of POV
Design is a process of improving the Perception of Value of products and services by focusing on three dimensions or ‘drivers’ of value:
- What is Desirable, the attributes such as the emotional connection, features, function, appearance or level of innovation that prompt people to buy a product or service and in the best circumstances, make a product or service ‘irresistible.’
- What is Useful, the attributes that satisfy a need or problem and can be manufactured at a reasonable cost.
- What is Usable, the attributes that make a product or service easy to use or experience reliably and is appropriate to the conditions under which it’s used or experienced.
Perceived Value defines what a product or service is ‘worth,’ and is therefore the principal determinate in what people will pay for it. This can work in both positive and negative ways for a company who provides the offering. When prospects or customers perceive that products and services are worth less than they actually cost to make or deliver, they can only be sold for a ‘loss,’ a very bad business proposition and the antithesis of good design. Conversely, those attributes that increase perceived value or ‘worth,’ allow offerings to be sold for more, sometimes considerably more, than they cost to produce or deliver, which translates into profit or ‘return’ on the investment. Profit is derived from the value added to cost and therefore makes Design the ultimate determinate of profitability.