good design sells?

I had this thought earlier which I don’t agree with but then couldn’t disprove…any help would be appreciated.

“the only measure of good design is if the design sells!”

So according to that logic…if I design something that I never intend to sell… it’s automatically poor design?

That doesn’t work because pricing is a factor and may be unrelated to the design itself.

A better measure of good design is how well it solves a problem.

Sorry, I am no sure if either of these comments disprove the statement. First of all I am refering to industrial design for this thread which means design made for mass manufacturing(and therefor to be sold). Comment two brings up the topic of money etc…but I believe good design takes into account the money of the project. The bic lighter is a cheap version of the zippo but I believe both are examples of “good design”…because they both sell?

Obviously there are many measures for good design, including its usefulness, usability and desirability in a context.

Therefore “the only measure” is proven wrong. I think you might be able to replace it with “best measure.”

Since you’re insinuating a specific type of design (mass produced) you will need to append that to your statement.

As for “sells,” there are many contexts in which the above benefits may be realized outside of “ownership” or “selling,” even in mass production. What if the developer decides to give them away? What about products where the “good design” (leading to things like longevity, brand-loyalty, repurchase intent etc.) is not realized until after it’s been purchased? What about commissions, like the firm that was hired to design the olympic torch (and which is never sold as a product?)

Therefore “sells” is proven wrong. I think you could replace it with the term “is adopted.”

It sounds like you are using ‘good’ to mean commercial success.

‘If the design sells’ isn’t the ‘only measure of good design’, because ‘good design’ is a subjective evaluation that can be applied to aspects other than sales numbers. ‘Good’ sales doesn’t automatically indicate ‘good’ reliability, ‘good’ ergonomics, etc.

Just look at the list of top selling cars in the US… it should disprove your theory:

The Chevy Malibu AND Impala made the list!

good design can help the recipe for good sales sucess but i would venture it is (unfortunately?) not a “must”. As Yo pointed out there are lots of examples to the contrary.

Ive even read some reports a while ago that for some things like in store advertising, poor design (cluttered, messy, overly complicated, garish) actually helps stimulate sales. I guess the consumer unconciously thinks “if they didnt have enough time/money to make it look nice, it must be a good deal” or “all the money they saved making a crappy display means im saving money too!”

When it comes to product design, I would consider “good” design (yet to be defined), as an ingredient that can, but not always help in sales. You of course must also consider the multitude of other factors (brand, price, marketing, market type, etc.). I’ve unfortunately been in the very disappointing situation more than once when a nice design hasnt had an increase on the bottom line for one or more of the above factors.

…not to mention “good design” is subjective. Something a designer might like (sleek, sex, techy) might be “good design” in the minds of the design team, but not recieved so well in another context (ie. +50 women shopping at 2am on the HSC).

…context is everything, and it were as simple as adding x-factor of good design to a product for instant success, there wouldnt be so many companies losing money out there and/or products that are terrible but financially sucessful.

just my thoughts.


PS. I remember my ID prof once told me (and I’ll always remember), “ID is democratic. Unlike architecture for instance, the consumer (almost) always has a say in what they buy, by what they pick off the shelf and purchase.” Ultimately any strategy to dictate “good design”, a certain 'style" or other will never go over well. IMHO.

Well, as a product designer in China, I have always been under the shadow of
" a good design is a design that sells"

No chinese factory or trading company will keep you unless your designs
sell. Pricing has now been the number one factor before any design is sampled.
Your design may be breathtaking in it’s beauty and functionality, but if in order to achieve this breathtaking outcome, the company needs to pay a high price, they will, 99.9 per cent of the time, sacrifice your design and butcher it to try and make it cheaper ( were talking 10 to 20 cents cheaper here.)

I am not an American designer, I am a filipino. I get more money than the chinese , but less than what a caucasian designer would earn. But with the chinese “gift” for copying/ knocking off designs, plus the Wal Mart mentality of buying cheap cheap cheap stuff chinese designers are now a threat to all foreign designers ( white or brown).
So rather than fight for the integrity of
our design, we just sigh and let them butcher it just so we can keep our jobs.

Of course, I still raise hell if they try to mess with it too much…