Balancing Style and Substance

Over at the Rogue Amoeba blog, there’s a fantastic article about the “Delicious generation”. The moniker refering to a generation of application developers that are using the successes of  Delicious Library as a template for their own success. The author argues that these applications choose style over substance.

Is he right? Given the choice between two equality capable software products, the one that looks the best will win – every time.

But what if the software that looks the best is less capable?  For example, compare Apple’s Pages product with Microsoft Word 2004. Pages really is a pretty application, well laid out and very easy to use. Compared to Word, Pages simply is less capable – it has fewer features and lacks document compatibility. Yet I choose Pages for every new document I write.

When writing an application, a developer should strive to balance Style and Substance. Eye candy by itself serves to “tickle the user’s brain” as Furrygoat puts it. It can be used to enhance the experience; giving the users the “I rule” feeling. The application must function as expected, be stable, and be responsive otherwise the user gets the “This sucks” feeling.
Style is as important as Substance.