So, you’ve seen the latest gadget or device advertised and think it looks really cool. Should that factor into your buying decision?

This is a more complicated question than a lot of business owners and executives might realize. For one thing, technology companies base a great deal of their marketing on sleek images and quick video cuts that are designed to emphasize the visual aspects of what they sell, even if those parts of the product don’t offer any immediate benefits. And on the other hand, there are times when the look and feel of the device can affect its utility.

To help you understand how the look of a technology product should affect your buying habits, let’s look at a few questions you should ask yourself…

What Other Benefits Are There to Making This Purchase?
It’s rarely ever a good idea to buy a piece of technology just because it looks good. Sadly, this can be the case more often than you think. Some “new releases” are really just the same old pieces of hardware with different colors and exteriors, or with added “features” that don’t really help you run your business.

If something looks great, but you can’t figure out why you’d want to spend money on it from a features-and-benefits point of view, be very wary.

Are Aesthetics Being Factored Heavily into the Cost of the Product?
The cooler something is, the more it will likely cost. The designers at companies like Apple and Ferrari know this very well. Both businesses make wonderful, industry-leading items. But, some would argue that they aren’t always worth the premium, especially when they’re brand new.

It’s okay to spend a little extra on something that looks fantastic. However, ask yourself how much of your business budget is going into that extra aesthetic edge and whether you’ll still be as impressed six months from now.

Is the Form Factor of the Product Actually Decreasing Its Usefulness?
In rare cases, form factor decisions can actually decrease the usefulness of a tech product. For example, some users will report that their new phones or smartwatches have surfaces that are hard to interact with because of their tiny size.

This isn’t a criticism of the “smaller is better” design trend, just a reminder that manufacturers sometimes have to make sacrifices in order to achieve a certain look or shape. Make sure your next device does what you need it to before you spend heavily on it.

Will the Look of the Product Help Persuade My Employees to Use it?
So far, we’ve been focusing on the value surrounding tech products that look better than they actually perform. However, it’s important to note that there is another side to this coin: namely that some employees will be more likely to use the devices you give them if they look cool or modern.

Your team might be impressed, or more ready to learn something new, if it involves using an iPad rather than a generic tablet. That’s not necessarily a reason to spend more money, but it could be a consideration when you weigh the various factors together.

The Bottom Line on Tech Aesthetics and the “Wow Factor”
We begin this post by asking whether aesthetics and form factor should matter when deciding to make or skip a tech purchase. In a certain sense that’s irrelevant because of the way our minds work. For better or worse, we are influenced by the looks of things and will consider that consciously or unconsciously when deciding to buy.

However, if we know what we’re looking for and are aware of these biases we can at least be smart enough to see the bigger picture and find the ROI we’re looking for. Ultimately, that’s the one detail we should never ignore.