When it comes to design, every year is the same. You will see articles upon articles extolling the virtues of design and how companies can benefit by putting more emphasis behind it and what happens? The same companies innovate while other companies think they can overpower the competition through features and marketshare.
By now I am sure everyone is well aware of the success of Nintendo's Wii, the most under-powered of the big three's systems. The one with the least amount of games and probably the weakest online gaming platform. Yet, it's the one that is consistenly out of stock and topping the sales charts month after month. While Sony and Microsoft are fighting over what the next technology should be for high-definition DVDs, Nintendo is fighting over who can create the greatest experience and they are winning by a large margin. The design is the great experience in Nintendo's case.
I wil not talk about Apple in this entry because there will be plenty more times when I bring them up in this column, but can you argue their magical turnaround at the beginning of the century was something else besides pushing out quality designed products? We learn the same lessons from Apple and Nintendo every year, yet companies don't seem to ever take notice. The best designs don't always win, but they win more often than not.
When will every company begin to realize that if you are going to compete at least make design one of the categories you trump the competition in? You might not be able to compete on the size of your audience reach. You might not be able to compete when it comes to how many zeroes are in the bank account. However, losing because your design is not as good as the competition means your chances of success are slim to none.
We live in a world where so many things are grabbing for our attention that we do not have the time to sort through all the mess. We do not have the time to waste on ugly. We want to have pleasant experiences with everything that we use and that all begins with the design of things. Do not worry though, if you forget about everything I just wrote about I will write it again next year because that is how the cycle works.