There seems to be an ongoing debate in the world of the web and technology around what's more important - design, functionality, usability, etc.
I find this debate odd.
Just last week Ryan Singer of 37signals wrote a post about how different the experience is between visiting an Apple store and a Sprint store. His main point, which I agree with entirely, was essentially that the experience in an Apple store is awesome and at a Sprint store it's pretty terrible.
Here's the thing though - he was there because AT&T's coverage has major issues. He wrote:
AT&T has been bad enough lately that, while I’m not ready to chuck the iPhone, I’m at least growing curious.
No matter how great the user experience is in the store, if the product isn't actually working that poses a pretty significant problem.
You never hear doctors arguing about whether the brain is more important than the heart. Or whether the lungs are more important than the Kidneys. Sure, I suppose in a major accident and something's got to go they know they can't take away the brain. I'm not trying to get in a philosophical debate here.
My point is, everyone agrees that these are all vital organs. They're all critically important, and they all matter a lot. I don't often hear doctors debating about whether it's more important to get oxygen to the blood or whether it's more important to pump the blood. That would be a sort of ridiculous argument.
This is how I feel about web applications. The 37signals products are simple and elegant, but if my data was lost or there was a major security breach, the easy to use UI would cease to matter very quickly. And likewise, without the design they just wouldn't be the products they are today.
Design and functionality are equally vital.
By the way, this is something I'll be keeping in mind as I execute on this idea, from Andrew Dubber. I'll be giving it a little twist, so it's going to be more than just a printout of a numberless calendar. Stay tuned.