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Insights from Bart

Guiding Principle

/ 5 min read

Some time ago I was talking to a friend about technologies, or rather digital tools and apps, that we use on a daily basis. And in fact, there was nothing out of the ordinary about this conversation that might have seemed revealing or worthy of further reflection. Or at least that’s what I thought until we decided to compare our smartphones, partly out of boredom; the iPhone with the device of another brand. Skipping the details, it turned out that the iPhone has almost all parameters worse, and costs more! Well, I tried to pay attention to other things, not just related to the power of the device itself. I mentioned among others the Apple brand itself as very prestigious and appreciated all over the world for its well-designed products. Unfortunately, he was not convinced by any of my non-technical arguments. Honestly, I didn’t catch them either, because the fact that something has been appreciated by the masses doesn’t mean that it’s valuable. The social proof of rightness has never been a benchmark for me.

We both thought differently. I was mainly judging the design and details, for him, capabilities were the most important. It was just a casual, friendly conversation that wasn’t about winning an argument, but when I got home, I felt quite unsatisfied. I admitted to myself that I did not understand my own motivations for consumer choices.

I thought about it for a while. It bothered me because I am rather a person who does not blindly follow trends and looks for prominence and self-esteem in things. So I asked myself; what’s the driver that makes me choose? I wasn’t able to answer that question right away, but at least one thing I knew for sure; consumer choices are influenced by something more than our whims, needs, a sign of prestige, or the effect of marketing.

Well, the point is, if something is really valuable for us, we don’t care that much about money, effort, or even the time we need to spend. There is something much more emotional and instinctive.

Let’s look at an example. More and more people in the world are starting to keep fit. The rule of “you are what you eat” prompts us to take care of our diet. It is something very important to us. That is, if we choose products in the store, we will pay a little more for high-quality products without blinking an eye. When making a choice, we are not guided mainly by the wealth of the wallet or the time we have to spend on getting to the store and choosing the right product. We follow the guiding principle that is appropriate to our purpose - in that case, we want to look attractive and have a healthy body.

This is not something obvious. For a long time, I have noticed that my choices and decisions are primarily influenced by my feelings about what I really care about and what turns me on. So, when I want to buy a new smartphone, I am driven by my curiosity about good, slick, and minimal design. And I feel better with myself when I know that the creator of things that I own is obsessed with the craft I also admire.

Everything else like money, prestige, promotions, opinions, delivery costs and even parameters are secondary. Of course, the functionality must not be missing, but this is the main part of the design itself, so I take it for granted.

I always thought that I prefer Apple products for their elegant design, for a smooth user experience, for every damn detail of the device and its accessories I have in my hand. I was wrong. These are just side effects of Apple’s guiding principle - obsession with great design and slick taste.

The guiding principle, if matches with consumer desires, creates emotional gravity. It makes us say I want it! or I want to live there! to ourselves before we even ask for a price. As the effect of following this principle, the brand is born - the emotional vision of the experience with creator’s craft.

”A brand is essentially a container for a customer’s complete experience with the product or company.”

Sergio Zyman

And don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that, in the context of digital tools, the power and capabilities of the device always matter less. As a programmer, what you will obviously follow will be the technical properties of your laptop. The guiding principle, in that case, is to prepare an effective environment for creating powerful software. It all depends on context - the aim of your relationship with the tool.

Honestly, I do not assume that each of us should now view consumption from this perspective. Not everyone can feel it’s time to attach importance to such unusual values. Rather, I just want to make a point that sometimes we could focus a little bit more on the quality of the design we choose to stick with and the creators we want to support. Because both, good and bad design, has its impact on all of us. It’s not just about smartphones. Design matters everywhere; In the architecture that surrounds us, in the urban space in which we live, in the security of our personal data, in the applications we use every day, for the environment, in the development of culture. What we allow, as consumers and citizens, determines the nature of the space in which we live. It determines our own character.

Even if you are not a creator, take some responsibility and support good design. Rate products and visions. Demand for quality. Speak out loud when something is non-functional and does not serve its users.

When you judge, try to find a guiding principle and start from it. Ask the question; “what the creator wants to stands for?”