Why form follows function is nonsense

Especially in the ux/ui field, everybody is mantra seems to be “form follows function”. Everything needs to function correctly. Well, I have to admit, I always was an advocate of that design philosophy.

I somehow still would never buy into the phone of a friend of mine who’s got a better camera, more functions and was even cheaper than my iPhone. Why was that?

When I recently visited the #forward design festival in Hamburg, Stefan Sagmeister held a presentation about exactly this topic, which totally blew my mind. He even called out UX designers with their “stupid” mantra.

How do you feel when working from home in Pijamas and having important business Telcos? How do you feel when you’re freshly showered, well dressed and styled for the office? I recently moved to a new Apartment, it may sound funny to you. But behave even differently. Because the apartment is so beautiful I try to keep it clean. I even take care of trash when it’s in the entry area because I want to “keep the beauty” of the building, furthermore, I dress better, I have bigger visions and think in other dimensions.

Humans are meant to draw to beautiful things. It’s in our nature. We value aesthetics and there is even mathematical proof for that. If we read up about the golden ratio for example and the bridge to aesthetically pleasing people, forms, and architecture.

So wouldn’t a good design which “functions” then also not have to be an aesthetically pleasing one? Our Job as Designers is it to fight for aesthetically pleasing things. To build things that are easy to use, but also beautiful. This also pays big time to user behavior. Stefan Sagmeister sad something in the lines of “All people are nice on Instagram because it’s beautiful and all People behave shitty on Facebook and Twitter because it looks shitty” These things really blew my mind.

When you’re in a client meeting next time, have the courage to say I make your Product more beautiful, instead of only just more usable. Try to convince him about the idea of beauty and why you think it matters. It will make you a better problem solver and most of all a better designer. Creating products people are drawn to and making the digital world a more beautiful place.

Do you have feedback, questions or input about the topic?
Write me on Twitter or comment the article.


Maruan has founded marumedia, a small digital product design agency based in Hamburg, Germany. Furthermore, he does consult in UX/UI design and development. He created marumedia.net to share his journey, learnings, pains, and lessons he encountered while doing so.

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