What is design?
Context, relationships, implications.
— Heydon Pickering
I found that many people think of designers as "the people who make things pretty". But I want to argue that design is about all secondary aspects of a product, not just its aesthetics. Let me make this clear by looking at a simple example: Building a chair.
The primary function of a chair is that you can sit on it. But if it was just about that you could also sit on the floor. Secondary aspects might by any of the following:
- it looks good
- it is comfortable
- it is innovative
- its color fits well with other furniture
- it evokes specific emotions, e.g. coziness, fun, trust or respect
- it does not hurt your back
- maybe it even strengthens your back
- it is long lasting
- production is cheap
- production is eco-friendly
- it is easy to repair, e.g. by replacing parts
- it can be fully recycled
- it has controls, e.g. to change height
- these controls are simple and intuitive to use
- even if something breaks, there is no risk of injury
- it is safe to be around toddlers
- it offers something that other chairs do not
Or, in the words of wikipedia:
Designing often necessitates considering the aesthetic, functional, economic and sociopolitical dimensions of both the design object and design process.
Coming back to webdesign, this means that it is not sufficient to think about aesthetics of a website. Security, performance, and maintainability are just as well part of the design. And these are the aspects that traditionally are in the domain of developers, not designers.
This is probably just playing with words. Who cares whether security is part of design, as long as we all agree that it is important.
Maybe that is what I am really trying to say. Yes, forget everything I said about "what is design". That was complete nonsense. What did I think!? My actual point is this:
Aesthetics are not the most important thing in the world.