Last night I had the opportunity to attend a John Mayer concert. That man sure knows how to work a guitar! But during the concert, something kept distracting me. As a design geek, my eye is always drawn to the unique elements of a production, and last night was no exception. One of John's guitarists, Robbie McIntosh, kept pulling out a strange looking guitar. It took some searching, but here it is:
The Duesenberg Double Cat 6/12 is a hollow body electric, and has a wonderful sound. It was such a unique design that I had to spend some time searching for it. You want to know the sad part? The real reason that I was searching so much is that I thought this guitar was super ugly. I still think so. Something about the way the curves all come together at the neck just isn't clean. Let's hope that it is shaped that way for some very esoteric acoustic reasons!
Anyway, ugly though it is, it is unique, memorable, and it is really good at its primary job- this guitar sounds beautiful. So this brings up the question, "is it OK for a product to be ugly if it works really well?" I answer this with a big NO! You can have the best product in the world, but if it is not shaped properly to entice people, you will vastly limit your market penetration.
The success of a product is based on many factors- form, function, marketing, distribution, cost, etc, etc, etc... For a product to succeed, it must work better, look better, be accessible, be visible, and be desirable. Missing out on any one of these points puts a roadblock between the product and the consumer. It is important to consider the big picture view of a product as it is developed. If you don't, you're dooming your product from the start.
Always remember, people buy things because the product speaks to them in some way. It is up to you to make sure that the product says the right things!