Why I always judge a book by its cover

by Luca Deasti

I always wander around the book aisle at the store looking at books. There is something about the feeling of the untouched paper and the shiny covers that have always intrigued me. And every time I travel, I buy a paperback, exclusively because of its cover, knowing that I probably won’t read it, but it will look good on my bookshelf.

This might be an unusual behaviour, but I am not alone in this: people like beautiful designs, whether it’s books, clothes, jewellery, cars, the list goes on. People enjoy looking and using beautiful objects because it gives them pleasure and it satisfies their senses.

In our world, the same goes for an idea, a website, merchandise or a simple banner. Good looking production means more value and higher perceived quality. It is what psychology defines as the Halo effect. Good-looking people for instance are generally perceived as more successful, confident and intelligent. This is because a good impression influences opinion in another area.

In short: beautiful designs are perceived more valuable and easier than less appealing ones.

You have 7 seconds to make a good first impression.

Whether this statement is true or not, we can all agree that first impressions matter. People will judge the book by its cover, so what can we do to improve that?

Adjust your attitude, your visual language will reflect your attitude. If you look sloppy and unfinished, your message will inherently reflect that.

Speak clearly, there is no point saying marvellous things if they can’t understand what you are saying. Speak in a competent and confident way making sure your message is relevant and appropriate.

Look smart. It is good practice to dress smartly for a job interview and here there is no difference: your design will be judged, make sure it looks ready.

Be interesting, be unique, be disruptive, look different.

If we consider usability a given and needed standard, sensory pleasure, especially visually, is the only tool that we as designer have to make a difference.

This is what fashion has taught me.

This practice has been standard within the Couture industry, where the undisputed major players have for decades pushed boundaries choosing aesthetics over function. And it works. Young people freezing in the Swedish winter wearing Nike sneakers. Philippe Starck’s Juicy Salif Squeezer. The recent fidget spinner craze. Aesthetics have the power to affect mood and perceived value, but also drive sales and create customer loyalty. Aesthetics wins over usability.

An added thought: I value beautiful products/objects more because of what I know being the effort and thought put in by a designer, whom didn’t stop at making a design just usable, but went the extra mile and made it beautiful.

To the client: poor design costs as much as a good one. Choose wisely. First impression matters and we can create a relation with the customer that is a competitive advantage and a hard to break bond.

To my fellow designers: Someone else will do the rationalising part, that’s not your job in the first place. Think beautiful.

Luca Deasti
Experience & Brand Designer
luca.deasti@river.se