Summary:

What ties many design parts together into a highly desired, functional product? Connectedness, ranging from user interface, user experience, product functions and self-healing, says Yves Behar. Touch is a big factor and you might be surprised by which companies Behar says are doing it right.

How important is design for this age of connectedness? Connecting the world is what design does best, said Yves Behar, speaking at the GigaOM Roadmap 2012 event on Monday. Behar, the CEO of fuseproject and CCO of Jawbone noted that “disconnected products in marketing and execution is what people hate. The look and feel of things give them identity. Design is actually the connectedness between all these disparate parts.”

One of the biggest factors impacting design choices right now are the needed changes due to touch interfaces found on everything from phones and tablets to household appliances. “Touch is magical,” said Behar. “It doesn’t remove the notion of tactility, which is important to design. How does something feel or respond when you touch it, for example.” The touch experience brings us back to “finger painting” by making the user experience more personalized and intimate. Going forward, design will be impacted more and more by how you can affect the world with your hands.

So who’s doing design right? Behar called out Microsoft and Nokia for their modern, contemporary design approaches combined with products. “I’m not sure that Microsoft’s Surface will work out, but I like where Microsoft is going; they’re moving away form skeuomorphism and thinking more about touch,” said Behar. From a user experience and user interface perspective, both companies are making good progress. The UX and UI are connected to the experience in a way that makes the product appealing and useful.

While touch is a new device design aspect, so too are software upgrades. “Self-healing is now part of design thanks to firmware that improve physical aspects of a device. The Jambox speaker, for example, has been made louder due to a software upgrade.” I’ve seen this first-hand as new features have been added to the Nest thermostat that add functionality without requiring a physical design change.

So what’s the hardest thing to design? “Wearables,” according to Behar. “I see lots of glowing Apple logos here in the crowd on the back of laptops. You can’t have wearables with such flashing things.” Indeed, Behar points to eyeglasses as a good example of design: Once wearing them, they almost become invisible to the wearer, bringing only needed functionality.

Check out the rest of our RoadMap 2012 live coverage here, and a video recording of the session follows below:

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