Design with attention to detail is rarely unappreciated. Great design isn’t always widely adopted and doesn’t always work out economically. It is, though, usually noticed. And it is often admired and appreciated. Most importantly, great design is inspiring. The computer below is a better design of a typical PC tower.
If “PC Tower” doesn’t mean anything to you and you still can’t figure out what the image above is, it’s a version of these:
I’m not saying the cherry wood/aluminum design would sell well and be a hit. Maybe an engineering department at a big PC corporation already priced out the cost and marketing looked at the price and said “no way, we can’t sell a PC tower at that price.” Not trying though… and letting an enormous gap in design take place… I think that kills your brand. Not for everyone because some people could care less about design, but for those that think when you do something, anything, you should take the time to do it well… to them bad design kills your brand. Bad design causes me to lose respect for a company. I see ugliness in a product and think that I’ve learned something about the company:
“They don’t pay attention to detail. In fact, they blatantly ignore it.”
This is the Apple powerhouse. It is Apple’s version of a “PC Tower”:
You can’t buy an a Mac Pro and, to save money, buy one that is ugly or slow or unreliable or lacking features.
This is a side by side of HP’s all-in-one versus Apple’s all-in-one:
Apple products are beautifully designed on the outside, and usually beautifully designed on the inside as well. From chip to case, cord (or lack there of) to operating system, every detail is cared for. The design says something about the people making it. This isn’t a celebration of Apple’s genius. It’s a complaint that no other manufacturer is building products that I can fall in love with.
I know a lot of people who use Android over the iPhone. They say it is more customizable. They like it more. But I don’t know anyone who LOVES Android. And I think that’s important. Most people don’t love Android or rave to others about Android or say that Android is amazing. It’s just not. It’s not amazing. And I think that’s so incredibly important to realize. I have walked into Best Buy and played with an Android phone literally dozens of times and I never understand it. Android feels a little dull, a little unpolished, and very uninviting.
Building for Love
Apple products are designed and built for people who love pretty things. Android’s value proposition is that they are packed full of features, options, and are very customizable.
Despite customization being the big selling point, Android demo phones show how little energy is spent on ‘attention to detail’. The demos are never pre-customized to show examples of why ‘customizable’ is appealing. Paint a picture! Show me a phone customized for a busy professional, a student, a nerd, a construction worker, or the elderly. If I’m a student am I supposed to go find the widgets and features and apps that the phone offers me?
I get it. I do. There’s a market for cheap products and it’s a big market. But that doesn’t mean that the world has to be filled with ugly, uninspiring shit. Manufacturers don’t have to choose. Mercedes offers models that are $200,000 and $30,000. They simply make sure their premium models are distinctly different from their affordable models.
Changing the World
Ultimately, what’s so discouraging is the number of billion dollar companies that aren’t designing a single thing that’s impressive or inspiring. How am I supposed to feel about tens of thousands of people working to churn out mediocre products that could be amazing, if only someone cared more? And does it say something about all the builders and the buyers? Are they utilitarian or dispassionate? And does a lack of attention to detail not only say something about the brand, but about the company or its employees? Look at other companies that care about attention to detail.
Starbucks offers all their employees health care. They’ve been doing it for years, long before ObamaCare came along. Just this week Starbucks launched a program to offer to pay half of the cost of their employee’s college education.
Elon Musk built the first mass market, economically viable, fully electric car. His car company, Tesla, builds a car that drives faster than most sports cars and goes 300-400 miles on one charge. It’s revolutionary. He didn’t have to, but he made the interior as amazing as the electric motor. He’s a details guy.
Musk and his partners got rich after he sold PayPal for over a billion dollars. Yet he staked everything to try to tackle some of humanities biggest problems, including the emissions problem. His car company is doing well, but he’s unhappy because he’s not selling enough electric cars to make a dent in emissions. Recently he announced that he is opening up all his electric motor patents to the other car companies.
He is giving them permission to steal his genius, for free.
Also, on the side he runs SpaceX, and they are revolutionizing space travel. NASA no longer supplies the International Space Station, Musk’s company dos because they can do it for less.
So does a product say something about the company and its people? Yeah, it does. It absolutely does. Mediocre people build mediocre things. Great minds strive for great things and keep trying until they get there, and they often change the world on their way. Point is, we need more people building for greatness. Mediocre products and the mediocre people who build them are wasting opportunities to build inspirational, revolutionary things. And dammit, I want to be part of a revolutionary generation.