Go Ugly

As I sit here staring at my sleek new iPhone 3GS, I’m thinking about the design sensibility that led Apple to ditch a keypad altogether for the simplicity of a touchscreen. Makes it a little more difficult to type but certainly helps the design.
Product developer, John Edson writes on Fast Company why ugly products also sell:

The nightmare for product managers is working for months on a new product launch only to see their brainchild fail because the market says, “Ew, are you kidding me? That’s ugly!” I think this is the reason why so many things we buy are just ‘nice’: They are perfectly fine products that focus on their functional appeal while borrowing their aesthetic from some other successful thing on the market.
In a recent focus group, we were getting feedback on preferences and habits related to certain electronic products. “They should all be black and silver,” declared a rather vocal leader in the group. Everyone else nodded in submission. “Yes, black and silver,” they droned. Then the moderator pulled out her Motorola Cobalt phone, a lustrous blue folding number with silver trim. Everyone ogled the phone. And they changed their votes.

Target has been very successful taking mundane objects and adding a splash of design to it. But like everything else, design is subjective. Think of Uggs, or Crocs. Lots of people think they’re ugly, but they’ve been successful. I guess sometimes people don’t know what they want until they see it.
Do you own something you like that everyone else thinks is ugly?



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.