Balancing Style and Substance

June 8th, 2007 § 2 comments

Over at the Rogue Amoeba blog, there’s a fantastic article about the “Delicious generation”. The moniker refering to a generation of application developers that are using the successes of  Delicious Library as a template for their own success. The author argues that these applications choose style over substance.

Is he right? Given the choice between two equality capable software products, the one that looks the best will win – every time.

But what if the software that looks the best is less capable?  For example, compare Apple’s Pages product with Microsoft Word 2004. Pages really is a pretty application, well laid out and very easy to use. Compared to Word, Pages simply is less capable – it has fewer features and lacks document compatibility. Yet I choose Pages for every new document I write.

When writing an application, a developer should strive to balance Style and Substance. Eye candy by itself serves to “tickle the user’s brain” as Furrygoat puts it. It can be used to enhance the experience; giving the users the “I rule” feeling. The application must function as expected, be stable, and be responsive otherwise the user gets the “This sucks” feeling.
Style is as important as Substance.

§ 2 Responses to Balancing Style and Substance"

  • Why is Pages not selling?
    Why has it died in the marketplace?

    Everyone I know would select Word (PC version) anyday over Pages (yes, we all know that Office for the Mac is a big POS – but still, it has a 1:1 sale rate to new Macs).

  • lou.amadio says:

    I believe one of the reasons that Pages & Keynote have less penetration is due to document compatibility. Apple has failed to integrate these applications into their customer’s workflow. I remember reading stories about Microsoft Excel and Lotus 123 – the reason it succeeded was it was windows based and natively supported the Lotus 123 file format (not just import, but true load and save). If Apple were to adopt native support for Word and Powerpoint documents in Pages & Keynote then the days for Office on the Mac would be numbered.

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