Everyone sees Apple as the gold standard for great technology design. Their minimalistic, clean, user friendly interfaces are great because they are simple and intuitive. They hide the complexity of the technology from the user. Great design is an integral part of every decision they make.
Many technology companies have great technology (function), but they leave the user-interface (form) up to their internal software engineers. In these instance, the design often appears to be an afterthought, at best. Popular psychology tells us that those who are often best with the “left brain” work, the logical stuff, might not be as good at the creating great designs, the “right brain” activities.
When Christopherson embarked on our journey to completely redesign AirPortal®, our integrated business travel technology platform, and introduce AirPortal 360™, our travel manager dashboard, we wanted to treat form and function with equal importance. We made the decision early on to hire a creative, user-interface design company to help us with our “form.” But this also then creates a separate challenge, which is that if you get too creative, your technology might not be as functional as a simple, yet boring, design might be.
How did we bridge the gap? We created two separate designs–one was done by our outside design company and the other by our internal development team. We then sat down and merged the best of both worlds. We were also fortunate that we have one of those rare individuals on our technology team who has great skills on both sides of the brain. The process was interesting; designers are artists and they often think of their design as their “baby.” And who wants to tell anyone that they have an “ugly baby,” right?
In the end, we came up with a design that nailed our form-versus-function objectives. And while we’re certainly not Apple, we do think our new AirPortal 360 design is clean, creative, and functional–so please don’t tell us that you think we have an “ugly baby.”