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"Current design trend" | Jean-Sébastien Monzani


Current design trend: quality isn't important

Hello my friends,

For once, this journal entry is something different. I would like to talk today about some current design trends that are making me rather angry. These are just annoying things, which mainly sacrifice quality and efficiency for the look of an object or the satisfactory direct first experience with it. And it’s not only for objects but also services too.

Let me first say that I’m a big worshiper of the sentence form follows function. This camera can look cool but if the lens is crappy or if I can’t override its settings, it’s pretty useless for me. No matter how the object looks, it must be efficient and do what it is supposed to do in the easiest way.

Now, some of these trends:

1. The user doesn’t need these functions. When a product is out for the first time, it is often filled with functions. The earliest expensive compact digital cameras (yeah, remember: 2 Mpixels) all had manual exposure mode for instance. As time passed, they looked more and more cool, thin and… hey wait. What about the functions? Now very few compact cameras offer full manual control now (except for instance the great Powershots from Canon). Why? Because designers thought Hey people don’t use much this function. Let’s remove it. It will simplify the object. Sure it simplifies things. But there is nothing good in over-simplifying design so that users willing to get more control don’t have it anymore.

Let’s take another example: your LCD monitor. Can you adjust its height? Can you tilt it? Can you move it around? All these functions are slowly dropped out in favor of great-looking useless designs. Oh yeah. I’ve noticed this blue LED in front of the monitor. Now, can you please help me adjusting its height? I’ve seen graphic designers using magazines to raise the height of their super-cool Apple displays. Now I can’t help thinking that their sleek look is absolutely stupid if it can’t provide adjustments.

And I’m not going to talk about the low-quality TN-technology domination on LCD monitors. Cheap to build, great brightness, and a viewing angle of just a few degrees before colors start to change. Wow. Did I mentioned they have a sleek look though? (and blue leds. Oh yeah. So cool)

2. Remove options Similarly, removing options is a trend that not only Apple likes. Oh yes, let’s speak about the new MacBook Air. So slim. It’s incredible. There isn’t something better than this. Unless you need, say, more than one USB plug. Like, for plugging a mouse and your camera. Or your printer. Or your USB key. Or well just anything. Now you need to carry in your bag a USB hub, just because you laptop is just too thin and can’t afford 5mm height to add more ports.

Oh and my new cell-phone. So cool. So thin. With a great screen. Well, the battery only last two days but hey, who cares? People just look at it and find it cool. That’s all I ask for.

3. Immediate satisfaction is much more important than quality. I’ve talked about ordering photo-books online previously and how photos are highly compressed before sending them to the lab, to save sending time. Sure. People don’t want to wait. They want to send their pics fast, and get the book as soon as possible. Of course, over-compressing their images will create artifacts but who cares? It’s just so great to have some crap printed on paper.

I was about to send some pics to my lab yesterday when their software notified me that my images are currently processed. Processed for WHAT? They had the right size and highest quality so damn WHY is some processing needed? Well, the transfer started and was just five times faster than my estimation. Wow. That’s fast. Did they boosted my internet connection? I’d better say they just over-compressed my images to save time on transfer. Needless to say I stopped this.

So, minilabs do you hear me? I don’t give a damn about having my photos printed on a mug or a T-shirt, I don’t want them to be stored online I just want you to print exactly the files I’m sending you. Is it so difficult to ask?

Enough for today. Have fun!

This was published by Jean-Sébastien Monzani, at deviantART (see this specific journal, please).
I thank him for the help and for letting me publish this here.

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