LaunchWeek: Substance vs Style

4 Sep 2014

Substance and style are the yin and yang of most design, with people often struggling to keep the two in perfect balance. Substance is what I believe draws the fine line between the worlds of Fine Art and Design. When I approach a new design project, I first ask the question: how I can make the substance of the media accessible to most people? The goal, of course, is that the media is both substantive and aesthetically pleasing, giving the viewer or user the best experience possible.

Although, good design should arguably have an equal balance of both substance and style, you can rarely get one without losing sight of the other. Take high street fashion for example, most clothes these days are designed with style as the main focus, this means that items can lack longevity and practicality. You go into your local high street shop and although you really love those beautiful shoes, deep down you know they won’t last or keep your feet warm and dry.

The same can be said across other areas of design like, the way software is designed, houses are constructed or even how your kitchen crockery or home furniture comes to look and function as it does.

As a consumer, it seems to be our choice what we would choose to prioritise when in the market place. I’m not sure if it is my Yorkshire upbringing or not, but I like to think that I prefer substance over style, but as a designer, this is only partially true! The beauty of true design is in the eyes of the beholder. Some people love things to be pretty, soft and friendly, while others prefer things to be more gadget driven and technically precise.

It seems unfair that as product designers, we should put these types of decisions into the hands of the consumer. It could be argued that the most appreciated and truly great designs out there are the ones that are both stylish and full to bursting with brilliant substance.

Here at OpenCRM, we are always trying to improve our products both in style and substance. We like to think that our users appreciate our ongoing hard work to keep the product at a high standard. It could be argued that our system prioritises substance over style at the moment, as it has always been important to us and our customers that the system functions in many different ways. With a vast array of features and tools, our users have a whole host of handy things to help them with their daily business needs.

Saying this, I am very excited that we are launching the first of a few of our new styling adventures next week, the new website. I personally have worked very hard to make sure our substance rich website is now more accessible, easier to navigate and hopefully a refreshing experience for you lovely people to dip in and out of.

Watch this space, only 5 days to go!