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Function Design: Why Form Follows Function in Design

May 19, 2023

Function Design: Why Form Follows Function in Design

The Importance of Function Design

As designers, it’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of a project. We strive for a visually appealing design, but it’s important to remember that the function of the product should always come first. Function design refers to the process of designing a product or system with its intended purpose in mind. This means that the function of the product should dictate its form, rather than the other way around.

Form Follows Function

The concept of “form follows function” has been around since the early 20th century. It was coined by Louis Sullivan, an American architect and designer, who believed that the form of a building should be determined by its function. This concept has since been applied to many different fields, including product design, graphic design, and web design.

The Benefits of Function Design

Designing with function in mind can lead to a more practical and intuitive product. When the form of a product is dictated by its function, it’s easier for users to understand how to use it. This can lead to a better user experience and increased customer satisfaction.

In addition, function design can also lead to more efficient and cost-effective products. By focusing on the function of a product, designers can eliminate unnecessary features and components, which can save time and money during the manufacturing process.

Examples of Function Design

One example of function design is the QWERTY keyboard. The layout of the keys was designed to prevent mechanical typewriters from jamming, by placing commonly used letter pairs apart from each other. Although the QWERTY layout is not necessarily the most efficient for typing on a computer, it has persisted due to its familiarity.

Another example is the design of a car dashboard. The layout of the gauges and controls is designed to be easily accessible and intuitive for the driver, with important information displayed prominently.


Function design should always be a priority for designers, as it leads to better products that are more practical for users. By designing with function in mind, designers can create products that are intuitive, efficient, and cost-effective.

Matt Thompson

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