Villing & Company

Design And Functionality Are The Same

I'm going to take a leap here and suggest that design (typically thought of as the way something looks and feels involving color, font and image choice) and functionality (traditionally seen as the way something works as it plays out in user experience) are not, in fact, different things. They're identical.

If there is any real difference, it's in the typical user of either word, not in the true essence of what the words are getting at. Design tends to be the go-to term for the folks on the art end of things while functionality remains the five-syllable favorite for the tech set. But both are all about the same thing.

Good design is not concerned only with aesthetic. And good functionality is not concerned only with whether or not something works. Both are concerned with aesthetic and whether something works. Good functionality is beautiful. And good design works. Both are a marriage of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Logic and emotion are equal players at the table of what makes it good or bad for a user.

If you don't believe me, I won't try to convince you. But what I can do is gesture at the troubles that arise when visual aesthetic and usability are compartmentalized.

If I handed you a book with beautiful typography and amazing images, but it was printed backwards starting on the last page and all the content was postage-stamp sized in the bottom corner of each page, beyond a quick laugh at what could only be described as a novelty item, you'd likely have little use for the book. Maybe web development is a more practical place to examine this.

If an art director were concerned solely with visual aesthetic and ignores whether something will work, the end product will likely be a disorienting experience for a user. In other words, it would lack the aesthetic of beauty that comes with good user experience which is different but just as important as visual aesthetic. A pretty-looking mess isn't really pretty at all. The ugliness in lack of ability to work undermines the beauty and thereby makes for bad design. The same could be said in reverse from the tech side of things.

When done right, design and functionality are the same thing. The feeling an artist gets when looking at great painting is the same as the feeling an engineer gets when looking at a perfect equation. It clicks. It works. It's beautiful in all the ways it should be, not just some.

When all the pieces sing in unison, a design-functionality symphony is formed.

Filed Under: creative

Villing & Company

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