Functionality and Design – The Dichotomy for Users

Undoubtedly one of the major aspects of innovations in products is actually not engineering innovations but design and style. While anyone can argue that design and technology developments go hand in hand, it is also easy to see precisely how design dominates consumer habits. This has been the case for some years since industrialized production allowed manufacturers to build cheaper products with the onus on design rather than functionality. E.g., the paper dresses of the 60s were inexpensive and of a bad level still for many fashionable consumers they were items you needed to have in the wardrobe.

This continues to the present day. Phone producers continually push and pull on the dichotomy of design vs functionality. Some product designers choose understated designs and rely instead on feature development. Lots of others choose to offer less features and instead focus on design, sometimes even collaborating with fashion designers.

With such a focus on design instead of functionality, it is easy to think of technology products simply as aesthetic but it is important to remember that these devices are supposed to have functional benefits as well. When you are making your choice of what product to buy there is often three factors that you have to think about – features, design and cost. At times you might want to spend more on features or design. At other times functionality and design are merged together. Apple’s product design ethos is a great example of design meeting technology.

If you always buy products based on their look then you should start to think about the functional element too. While it is often be tempting to purchase the coolest design, it may not be the smartest. You should really always look at the functionality of the device and how you will be using it. There is no point buying a high-tech laptop if all you will be doing is writing emails with it or surfing online.

Thus, when buying new products, always think about how you will use it or why you need it. An example of this is e-book readers (such as the Amazon Kindle). These have practical uses as well. E.g., a lot of airlines now limit passengers to only one piece of luggage. An e-book reader is much smaller than your average book and you can take a lot more books with you on holiday than you might otherwise be able to.

Cell phones are a good example of improved technology features. You may be able to use your cell phone for all of your media needs. Lots of phones now come with large amounts of memory allowing you to save videos, pictures and music. Many mobile phones now also have digital cameras as well, meaning you won’t have to buy a separate, pricey camera. The web is no different. Many sites have been created with usability and functionality in mind. You can use sites which have been developed to allow you to manage your web time better. They span from a social bookmarking service, assword managers and personalized homepage.


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A passwords manager can save you time and will transform the way you work. Sadly, lots of them have a functional design and feel. It will be interesting to watch how they will develop as more people come to expect functionality that is displayed in a well designed end product.

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