An Argument For Building Attractive Things

Here’s a rule of thumb that applied to both people and design experiences:

The more attractive something (or someone) is, the more we’re willing to tolerate its flaws.

When something is beautiful, we’ll work with it just a bit more, despite its inadequacies. We do this because we want to be associated with beautiful things. We want to build relationships with beautiful things (same for beautiful people). We want to evangelize them. We want to become a part of them.

When one becomes obsessed with a beautiful object, it isn’t because we want that object to come into our own personal world. It’s in fact the reverse. We want to enter its world. Of course, that thing that we found to be so beautiful at first glance may actually have some awful flaws. Really expensive yet excruciatingly uncomfortable shoes come to mind. We want it to work out so badly.

Here is my theory in a beautifully elegant visual form (also known as “data visualization.”):


So what’s the moral of this blog post? When you’re building stuff, make it usable but also make it attractive. I mean, we should all be aiming for both, but not everything can be Brad Pitt.

6 Comments An Argument For Building Attractive Things

  1. Avi Flax

    I agree, good thoughts. One thing though: “attractive” != “beautiful”. “Attractive” is more about appearance, while “beautiful” can be at many different layers.

  2. Ale Muñoz

    There’s this beautiful from Don Norman, “Emotion & Design: Attractive things work better”, where he states:

    …when we feel good, we overlook design faults. Use a pleasing design, one that looks good and feels, well, sexy, and the behavior seems to go along more smoothly, more easily, and better. Attractive things work better.

    I couldn’t agree more : )

  3. Taekwondo Expert

    That is a very informative post! I never though about it in that way before… In fact it is actually quite sad because beautifull people have a better chance to achieve success in life just because they are beautifull. In my opinion not fair!

  4. S2s

    Andy Hunt makes the same statement in his book “Pragmatic Thinking & Learning, Refactor Your Wetware”. His catch phrase is:
    “Strive for good design. It really works better.”
    I like how you’ve put it too, especially the “threshold for pain”.


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