About the Author:

With a career that has spanned advertising, production, technical services, and project management, Michael is able to articulate the wide range skills and professions that make the Internet work. This eclectic understanding and his desire to shine the light on those hiding behind techno babble has brought success to a wide range of projects.

Twitter @bissell

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Past Postings:

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online

Industry Profile - Author

Industry Profiles Full Time Employees - Professional Writer

Some Thoughts On Freelancing

Building Your Online Brand

Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce

LinkedIn for Professional Writers

Fake Republican Twitter Accounts

"Did you mean?" -- Google's chiding nanny of search results

Branded Technology

Sharingspree.com -- Stealing more than GroupOn's Idea

The Internet Isn't Entertaining Enough

It's not your bank... It's Apple's and Amazon's

Violated by Madison Avenue

Google+ Scares Me

"We need to..." Internet Marketing Myths

Facebook's deal with the Devil

My cool new phone is a little too cool.

You are never alone

Promotion vs. Distribution... You'd think they'd know that one...

Publishing Industry Watch

Content for Social Media

Social Media Slot Machine

Anonymous vs Me

News from the Twitter Follow Campaign Trail

The art of Indiscriminate Twitter Following

The Cloudy Meaning of The Cloud

The Demand For The Loss of Creativity

Alien Technology and Government Conspiracies

Time for a New Reality

The Death of Email

Protecting Free Speech... Anonymously (and geekily)

Amazon Shouldn't Have Shut Down WikiLeaks

The Superpowers of the Hive Mind

Time for New Ideas

Comcast, Netflix and the Mystery of the Modem

The Great Technical Disconnect

New for the Sake of New

A Retail Store Built Like the Web

Disposable Personas

When did Google Start Policing the Internet?

Getting back to HTML basics, thanks to Apple

Inspecting my Navel Base

A shoebox vs. an online backup

Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly?

iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?

The Failure of Success

The Economy is Going to Get Worse, but that's okay

Time lost on Twitter

Client Vendor Relationships

Twitter's back alleys and dark places

Social Media is NOT Advertising

Microsoft Courier

Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)

PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb

China and Apple -- Different organizations, same management

The volume of screens

Logorama

Google Adds Biking Directions to Maps

Transmedia

That magical little tablet

How your website can be in two places at once

Masterpieces created by sheer volume

Suing over lack of originality

A Primer on Internet Fame -- dancing babies, hamsters, numa numa, and more...

Checking my messages

Rules are made to be broken -- in a reasoned, systematic way

So many accounts, so few passwords

Who really uses Twitter? 60% of Twitter's traffic isn't on Twitter

The Web is a Jerry Rigged Kludge

Twitter: Asleep at the Mouse Wheel

Where regulation is good: Google Voice and Vonage

How Facebook is (unintentionally) forcing programmers to piss off users

The Twit Cleaner

Perfect Secretary's pitch for @Adbroad (and the Youtube API)

The Emotions of Text

The Shorty Awards Scandal -- Manual Spam is still Spam

Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail

Helen Klein Ross & Michael Bissell Interview at Adweek's Social Media Strategies Conference

The Internet is the New 60's

Cougars from New Zealand (and I don't mean big cats)

Adding facts together, or why you can't charge your cell phone from wifi

Social Media and the Destruction of the World

Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga

How to tell someone to retweet (without using up your 140 characters)

You can't buy social media

A book unopened is but a block of paper

Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes

Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Archiving Twitter

Too Many Toolbars

Random Censorship with Google Adwords

Accessibility and Shopping Online

Twisted path to customer service

Flash: Shiny objects blinding your audience

Twollow and other gold rush scripts

GPS in a Laptop computer

Thinking outside the box... There was a box?

Twitter was designed for Text Messaging

It's not the corporations, damnit

Entrepreneur or Dreamer?

Adweek Social Media Twitter for Brands Presentation

Socializing is more than Social Media

Generational Marketing is a Myth (or Who's your Daddy?)

Social Media is Just the Way We Use the Internet

Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites)

The Internet is Gooder than Books

Sometimes you don't want your campaign to go viral

Best Twitter Branding Campaign

Like flies to crap, Spammy Twitter Followers don't really go away

iPhone SMS Security Hole

How Flipmytweet works

Cell Phones as Microscopes

Digg is not the Hijacker -- You Are

Steve Ballmer -- the walking dead?

Twitter as an open mic poetry reading

Automatic Social [un]Awareness

First splash for United Against Malaria

New Media/Old Media and the CLIO Awards

Interview at SXSW: Mad Men Twitter And Tracking

We've got an App for that -- it's called the Web

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

The trouble with Wordpress and other templates

Wayward Words with Baggage

Speaking at SXSW March 17th

The fleeting Memory of the Internet

It's okay to say 'I don't know'

Nike Takes Over Conquent

Facebook owns this title

Excuses, excuses

A little on Social Media

Feeding on Content

Attack of the Bots

Web 1.0

Net Neutrality

Getting clever with data feeds

The Other Credit Crisis

The Broadband Inauguration

T-Mobile owns Magenta and Other Patent Stories

The Risk-takers, Doers and Makers of Things

The noise of 20,000+ Twitter Followers

30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall

Cellphones, toilets and the Inauguration

The End of Days (of song): Microsoft Songsmith Example

Browser Bigotry

The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith

Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

The Myth of Wikipedia (or the Wiki-1400)

Online/Offline Sales -- is it really that bad?

Is PayPal Tacky?

Old School Web Design Still Works

Domain Squatting

Green Chri$tma$

QA 101

Portland Snow

Get some return on that web traffic

I think they have a backup...

I'd love to have that problem

The [un]importance of statistics

Don't be a tool of viral marketing

Emails, discussions, blogs, wiki and web content

You Designed for Print First

You let someone else register your domain name

You figured .biz, .info, .us would work fine

What's after the Integrated Circuit?

Intelligent life is out there (but it's bugger all down here on earth)

Subject Matter Experts Talking Other Subject Matter

The Totalitarian Regime of Apple

Oversimplifying how people work

crowdSPRING

Creative Services for the New World

Reverse Anthropomorphism

The End of Time

Better Living Through Twitter

Lessons Learned From Apple

It's the Brand, Baby

Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

On Truth

Inverse Peter Principle

Random Knowledge

The Hive



RSS for this blog
Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)
Posted: 2010-04-07 10:24:20
Shortcut URL: http://t.conquent.com/ZA00



I need to make something clear -- I don't actually hate Apple. They make great products, they have amazing branding, incredible marketing, and a loyal customer base.

I hate that the competition doesn't do better.

I don't mean the competition doesn't make good products, I mean that they don't care about presentation and care more about features than usability. Technology has been controlled by the geeks, and geeks aren't exactly known for their fashion sense. Add a sense of "first to market" desperation and you get the DVD players, phones, and hard-to-use crap we spend way to much money and time on.

Most companies that try to blend form and function fail miserably -- the function guys (geeks) don't understand why the form guys (designers) insist on that shade of ecru and figure dirty white is good enough. The form guys can't understand why the function guys can't just make it work.

Instead of calling a simple device "revolutionary and magical", the geeks present a really complex, obtuse interface that does millions of things and say, "read the fucking manual" or worse yet, RTFM, being cryptic, insulting and unhelpful all in one tight little acronym. It doesn't matter that Apple's "Geniuses" are nimrods, they're friendly and polite and you feel okay about giving them a hundred bucks to throw away your old iPod.

As long as form doesn't kill you, it will always trump function. Hell, it can even kill you from time to time, cigarettes being a great example of marketing over benefit.

Somewhere on the Form<------>Function dialectic, you find management going off on a tangent. They don't care or understand either extreme and just wish the geeks and the designers would shut up and quit bitching and get a product out the door, usually rushing so the design is ugly, and the functionality just doesn't quite work.

"We'll send out a patch post-release..." The consumer shouldn't even know what a patch is, let alone a "beta" version. If they get one thing that works, that they don't have to call technical support for, that doesn't need a seminar or a training course, the will buy it. The iPad being a case in point.

Apple has mastered the art of Top Secret R&D which buys them time to get the product working, make it look and feel nice, and figure out how to make everyone believe that the limitations are really cool.

Now, if we could just get the rest of the tech world to slow down, talk a little, and produce something that works and is pleasing, then I can stop ranting about Apple.

Next
Microsoft Courier
Previous
PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb


Bruce Dickson: Re: Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)
2010-04-07 14:05:44

Could not have summed up the dilemma better. Apple suck totally for their whole control the user philosophy but Microsoft - with all their resources (leaving no room for excuses as a result) - consistently fail both the function and design tests!! No room for betas and patches is nothing but the truth. But the whole truth is that the world in general TOTALLY undervalues the absolute necessity and significance of GREAT design and its primacy in everything that helps make life itself great as well. Functionality to me is just a take it for granted ...


Teagan D: Re: Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)
2010-04-07 18:53:50

Good post; one thing in specific stuck out to me though: "We'll send out a patch post-release"

This mentality seems to have grown in apparent acceptability in recent years, with increased internet availability; nearly every program now has a 'patcher', and every patcher wants to update itself every day.

Despite the obvious inconvenience (I really hate patchers) of running daily, waiting for it to download, check, install and start your new version, it's simply bad form; it indicates to me that companies (and developers, in fact!) have become lazier- there's no reason to check for all the bugs, because users can report the problems for them and they can 'just patch it'. The increased presence of bug tracking systems being made public to the end users of large projects almost seems to confirm this... though I'm not sure it's such a horrible thing, it shouldn't be abused.

No longer do developers seem to want bulletproof software developed, management practically insisting against it so the product can get out the door faster. It leaves us users with a bunch of bug reports to file before we can actually use what we paid for...

I do, however, see the value of 'patchers' for software like QuickBooks/Quicken, and for antivirus solutions, it can be important to have the patcher run more frequently to keep things secured; but this should be used as a way to protect against newly discovered exploits; not bugs that management & the developers were too lazy or busy to fix.

I don't feel as hypocritical writing this as I might a bit ago, I've gotten a bit better at QA ;)

Apple seems to have it right with this, though... at least partially. I'm not really a fan of Apple as their interfaces feel too 'dumbed down', and I greatly dislike most of their 'control' policies (locking everything down 'for our own good'); I do yield to their way of making things very simple, however, they seem to do it right the first time.
In certain other instances, I've noted that if Apple can't package a complete feature, they simply exclude it; it could be the wrong thing to do, but it doesn't result in things breaking in the user's hands; I would imagine things like system-wide copy+paste and application multi-tasking on the iPhone OS might be an example of this...

They also have the ability to bring certain technologies into the spotlight for the purposes of advancing the entire field- MP3 players are the most obvious example of this, and now I'm hoping the same thing will happen with tablet PCs; as I'm sure you might recall, I love tablet PCs- it's just a shame that it seems as though the whole market has been stuck in the same rut for years; the same designs, the same specs, no originality. Apple's design isn't terribly original either (which is to say: not at all), but they will jump-start the market like they did with MP3 players. I'm hoping, at least. If not, I'll settle for Microsoft's Courier, which if you haven't seen it: http://t.conquent.com/courier
Looks way cool, if it matches up to the hype... and I love the form-factor. A book as a PC; perfect!

Anyway, your blog brought some interesting thoughts to mind, thanks.


John Bissell: Re: Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)
2010-04-08 18:21:10

A couple of points (Maybe a few). Michael is right. The products in question require people who don't speak the same language and have no empathy for the other side (i.e. form v function people). Both think that their part is the most important, so why do I have to pay any attention to the other.

However, this is not a new thing that just applies the tech industry faces. Civil Engineering v. Architecture - Car Designers, vs. drive train designers, Doctors v. nurses.

That solution is in management, that includes production criteria, education and enforcement. I know this method works from first hand experience in the Civil Engineering industry.

I also don't think the release early thing is new in American Industrial Culture either. This is in fact the exact problem that brought down GM, while the opposite - fix it on the line and release no flawed product - is what elevated Toyota.


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