Design Doesn’t Matter

Although I will be kicked out of the web designer community for suggesting this, I think I’ve decided that design doesn’t matter. Well, maybe that’s going too far. But here’s an example.
Earlier this week I was looking to buy a Clive Pig vinyl album from the mid-1980s. A Google search turned up the Last Vestige Music Shop in Albany, New York (just 200 miles up the I-90 from my birthplace of Rochester).
By any measurement, Last Vestige’s website is ugly. You might even say it’s gaudy.
But that didn’t really stop me for a second from making a buying decision. Even the fact that I had to email them my request and wait for them to email back the URL for their secure ordering page didn’t really faze me. The purchase process, from beginning to end, took about 27 hours.
The process was not, in other words, most of the things that e-commerce is supposed to be: quick, easy, well-designed, etc.
But somehow — and I should add here that I as much of a design fascist as the next guy — none of this mattered. Indeed if anything the experience was more fun than the antiseptic process of buying something through Amazon.com.
In the end what mattered most to me was that (a) the process worked and (b) it was evident to me that there were real people at the other end of the transaction.
Isn’t it amazing that I feel a greater personal connection to the people running this obscure record shop in New York than I do to the cyborgs at the local [sic] phone company up the street.
I suppose what I have discovered is not that design doesn’t matter but, in fact, that it does matter: design a system that makes people feel like people, and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s got wonkly typography and a starfield background.

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John Morris's picture
John Morris on December 23, 2003 - 04:31

Do you still feel this way Peter?

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