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The Three Key Factors of the Design Mix: Aesthetics, Function, and Cost

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

As a business student, it is important to understand the elements that make up a successful product or service design. One of the key frameworks for thinking about design is the design mix, which considers three key factors: Aesthetics, Function, and Cost. Understanding how to balance these elements is critical for creating products and services that meet customer needs and stand out in the market.

Learn more by watching the video and reading the blog post below:


Aesthetics refers to the visual appearance and style of a product or service. A well-designed product should not only be functional, but also pleasing to the eye. This includes the product's shape, colour, and materials, as well as the overall style and aesthetic. A product's aesthetic design can be a major factor in attracting and retaining customers, as it can make a product stand out and appeal to a target market.

For example, the design of the iPhone, developed by Apple Inc., has played a major role in its success. The sleek and modern design, combined with a user-friendly interface, has made the iPhone one of the most popular smartphones on the market. Another example is the fashion brand Gucci, which is known for its iconic design and aesthetic, making it a popular choice among luxury consumers.


Function refers to the practical aspects of a product or service, including its intended use and the benefits it provides to the user. For example, a coffee maker should not only look good, but it should also be able to make coffee efficiently and effectively. The functionality of a product or service is an important factor in determining its success in the market. Consumers are looking for products that not only look good, but also perform well and meet their needs.

A good example of a product that balances function and design is the Nest Thermostat, developed by Nest Labs. The thermostat has a sleek and modern design, but it also provides advanced functionality, such as learning a user's preferred temperature and controlling heating and cooling from a smartphone. Another example is the Dyson vacuum cleaner, which has a unique and innovative design, but it is also highly functional and efficient in cleaning floors.


Cost is an important consideration in the design process, as businesses must ensure that their products or services are priced competitively in the market. This means considering the materials and resources used in the design and manufacturing process, as well as the target market and their willingness to pay for the product. Cost must be balanced with the other two elements of the design mix, Aesthetics and Function, in order to create a successful product.

For example, IKEA is a furniture retailer that is known for its low-cost, yet stylish and functional products. The company balances cost with design and function by using cost-effective materials and manufacturing processes, without sacrificing quality or style. Another example is the automotive company Tesla, which has disrupted the traditional automotive industry with its focus on electric vehicles that are both stylish and efficient, but also competitively priced.

In conclusion, the design mix is a crucial framework for thinking about product or service design. By considering the balance between Aesthetics, Function, and Cost, businesses can create products and services that are attractive, functional, and cost-effective, ultimately leading to success in the marketplace. Whether a business is developing a new product or improving an existing one, understanding the design mix is key to creating products that meet customer needs and stand out in the market.

Watch the video above to see how Apple use the design mix.

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