Beautiful vs ugly
I know I promised that in this tutorial we would reduce the theory to a minimum, but in this lesson we have to ask ourselves an important question and think about it a bit.
What exactly is beauty, and what makes some things (e.g. user interface) beautiful and others ugly?
Finding the answer will determine whether you will be a good or bad designer.
So let's take this seriously. This answer will be the foundation on which we will build a palace of our knowledge about design.
What is beauty?
This is a question that has puzzled humans for centuries. Some may argue that beauty is subjective and can differ from person to person, while others believe that there are universal standards of beauty.
In his book "The History of Beauty" Umberto Eco makes a compelling argument that what is beautiful is also what is good and useful.
He suggests that throughout history, beauty has been associated with qualities such as harmony, proportion, and balance, which are also qualities that are valued in society. These qualities are not only aesthetically pleasing but also serve a practical purpose in making things functional and efficient.
For example, Eco points out that the ancient Greeks believed that a beautiful body was a healthy body. They saw physical beauty as an indicator of good health and believed that a strong, healthy body was essential for survival.
A Discobolus in the National Roman Museum in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
Similarly, in art and architecture, the Greeks valued harmony, proportion, and balance, which were not only aesthetically pleasing but also served a practical purpose in creating functional and efficient structures.
Idealized reconstruction of the Acropolis and Areios Pagos in Athens, Leo von Klenze, 1846
In more modern times, the idea that what is beautiful is also what is good and useful can be seen in the field of design. A well-designed product not only looks good but also functions well, making it more useful and valuable to the user.
It is hard to find a better example of a product than the iPhone, where beauty combined so well with functionality
In conclusion, while the concept of beauty may be subjective, there are certain qualities that are universally valued and associated with beauty. These qualities, such as harmony, proportion, and balance, are not only aesthetically pleasing but also serve a practical purpose in making things good and useful.
As such, what is beautiful is also what is good and useful - and this is the main thought I would like you to take away from this lesson, for we will refer to it again and again in the future.
Co Founder at MDBootstrap and Tailwind Elements / Listed in Forbes „30 under 30" / Open-source enthusiast / Dancer, nerd & book lover.
Author of hundreds of articles on programming, business, marketing and productivity. In the past, an educator working with troubled youth in orphanages and correctional facilities.