The Importance of Aesthetics

The other day when Zoho People was announced I came to the realization that even though I had heard about Zoho in 20 different blog posts over the last year or so, I had never taken a moment to go check out what they were all about. With a full online office suite, it’s definitely something I’m interested in and could use. So why didn’t I take 5 minutes to explore further?

Their Logo. It had been attached to all of the posts about them, and when I see it I just instantly lose interest in the company and their products. This is not the logo of a company that wants to be taken seriously for a productivity suite, it’s the logo of some company that sells teddy bears online that you can customize…or something. It is such a stark disconnect from the target demographic that I really just can’t understand the thought process that went into it.

Now I may be shallow in writing off this company solely because I didn’t like the look of their logo (though I would argue that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do), but the point is that it doesn’t matter at all what features, awesome back-end programming, and next-generation online collaboration Zoho offers. I never found out more about them because the image I was presented was not one that appealed to me.

The design of a company’s logo, its products, its website, everything, are not throwaway concerns. In a split-second, a person might look at your corporate website and decide “This company doesn’t look professional enough.” There is a critical period in the very first moments a potential customer sees your product that may well inform the rest of your relationship with that customer. Without an appealing aesthetic front, you will never make it to the meat of your pitch, because they have already written it off mentally.

This, I feel, was the largest gap between my college Computer Science education and the real world. I’ve always been a designer as well as a developer, but when there was absolutely no emphasis placed on the user experience or the aesthetics of the software that we were building for classes, I got frustrated. Not everyone has an eye for design, and that’s not a problem. But if a product is to be taken seriously, someone along the line has to take it and make it look good, because behind-the-scenes magic will always be just that: behind the scenes.