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Design is the difference

As at firms like Sony, Samsung has now reached the point that the designers dictate to the engineers, not vice versa!

It is the usage that is important for a customer when buying a product. The technical stuff inside is irrelevant on its own. The technical features can be the difference between two products but it is the usage of this technical feature that results in a customer preference for one product over another.

I am currently doing up a new version of the CRM module in 24SevenOffice (a web-based ERP/CRM-system for the SME market). One major technological difference in this version is the use of XML and the XMLHTTP object in Microsoft XML Parser which allows the client to request data on a web server without refreshing the entire page. I think all this is very cool and have enjoyed working with these technologies. From a technical perspective it is very interesting and other IT-guys will probably love many of the features built into the web-application. BUT all that means nothing to our clients. What they care about is the significant speed increase when they search and open an existing customer or create a new contact in the CRM module. The response is immediate - same as working with software installed locally on the client but with all the benefits that a centrally managed web-application offers.

Another example (one i always like to refer to) is Google. Google has two main reasons for their success. The first is their brilliant search technology which focus on what the user wants - the most relevant results first. The other is the simplistic design that focus only on what the user wants - search for something. No annoying banner ad's, no additional services that the user is not interested in, no photos.

There are two main drivers for the importance of design in business. Simplicity and style. They are both of critical imporant for a successful product. The product must be easy to setup and easy to operate. If most products offered in a particular product-category fulfulls these needs then style is what sets them apart. The product must look more appealing than its competitors:

In 1993, Samsung's boss was wandering in LA, and became annoyed that Sony products were always in the front of the store, while his, equally well engineered, were tossed about in the back. Hence, an ephiphany that launched the remaking of Samsung.

Simplicity...easy to use..a good user-interface is a large part of good design. A stylish interface is worthless if a user do not understand to use it or if it hinders the effectiveness of the task. There are many good new web-application interfaces that have come up this year. For example Basecamp from 37Signals, Gmail from Google and Flickr by Ludicorp. To keep this post objective (or at least try) I wont add 24SevenOffice to that list - but I can honestly say that our customers agree with me that we have come a long way with visual presentation and making a clean, simple to use and fast user-interface.

Read Samsung ... By Design! posted by uber management guru Tom Peters

Written on 23 November 2004.
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