Thoughts on Engineering, Photography, and Design.

Hey, I'm Ryan Heath. I design & develop things for a living and play with cameras for fun. This is where I share my thoughts on all of that — and probably more — along the way.

Should you judge a book by its cover? Absolutely.

We’ve all heard it before, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But why not? Because the creator didn’t care enough to make the cover representative of the content? I’ll need a better reason than that. In fact, that’s the exact reason why you should judge the cover.

Note: book, in this context, means a lot more than just books. It extends to anything that has a front-facing representation, ranging from a website to the packaging of your next coffee maker.

Good first impressions are where it’s at. When on a job interview a good first impression seems pretty important, right? And when you think about it, unlike products, there are a lot of ways to make that impression: clothing, attitude, previous work, eye contact, and what you have to say. Plus, there’s dedicated time set aside to focus on just you. With a product there’s only what shows on the outside. Potential buyers don’t interview products to see which one they want. So why then, would it ever be okay to neglect the first impression a product makes on a customer? Is it because websites and coffee makers can’t talk? Technically, that’s true. But products speak quite loudly–most folks just aren’t consciously aware that they’re hearing anything.

And yes… some products are very rude.

Rude products are those that don’t care about the message they’re sending. They believe that by being the product their job is done and the rest is secondary. They assume you’ll use them even though they didn’t take the time to impress you up front. They’re narcissistic.

Polite products, on the other hand, are those that really want to make you smile from the minute you’re introduced (Wufoo might be the best example of this), and they go above and beyond to make sure that’s the case. Thoughtfulness baked in from the beginning, setting the tone that you can expect good things.

While some rude products do sneak into the mix, the polite products will inevitably win out in the end.

It’s instinctual that we judge based on visual appeal, even if subconsciously, and when it comes to things that are designed there’s no better time to put our instincts to use. Start paying attention to the covers. Don’t forcefully ignore them because “the saying” said to. Often enough, those who care deeply about the outside care even more about the inside.