It was sometime in 2009 when one of my design professors described how form follows function. In a classroom full of eager to impress, want-to-be designers, we were totally engaged in this conversation. Of course at the time, we were all caught up in trying to make a statement or make something that really “popped.”
Little did I know, he would change my perception of design forever.
Ask yourself the simple question, “is this an important part of the function?”
I’ll never forget that moment. His British charm and insight formed a principle in my daily practice that makes every design decision a little bit easier. At the same time it backs the argument that design is more than just a beautiful final product.
This principle of form following function is a simple yet powerful tool in the day to day of every project. It helps guide requirements, prioritize information, reduce complexity, cut scope, and ultimately understand what the need actually is. Ask yourself the simple question of “is this an important part of the function?” Or “is this needed to solve the problem?”
If we are truly “designing” then we need to care more about the process we undergo in order to ensure the final form fits the function.
The most exciting part of our job is to understand the behaviours of our users in an effort to give the best function.
Now, ten years later and I’m still using this same principle. In the world of product design, we continue to have to fight the uphill battle that we are not just form experts. The thing that excites me most about our job is to understand the behaviours of our users in an effort to give the best form to their desired function.
This process to find the proper form to fit function is design. Form will always be a major part of our work, but it will always follow the long process of determining what is needed in the first place. If you can make something very complex into a simple solution that is also beautiful – you’ve done something wonderful.