Understand These 10 Principles Of Good Design Before You Start Your Next Project

One of Dieter Rams’ well-known designs, a record player.

“Is my design good design?”

Hopefully, as a designer, you ask yourself that periodically.

It seems like an easy question, right? Contrary to popular belief, though, people don’t always know what they like. You’ve probably felt this way on more than one occasion yourself. How do you design for people who don’t even know what they like?

Have you ever used a product or a piece of software that knocked your socks off? It’s a safe bet that it not only worked great, but looked great, too.

Because it is certainly unpleasant and tedious to be confronted day-in, day-out with products which are confusing, which literally get on our nerves, and with which we cannot relate. - Dieter RamsClick To Tweet

If your business is selling ideas, working on the web, or sharing content, you’ll need your great idea to turn heads, not annoy. This might be easier than you think; you don’t have to own photoshop, or even be able to draw for that matter. The main thing you’ll need is to know the right questions to ask yourself.

The 10 Principles Of Good Design

Meet Dieter Rams. Rams is a designer, and he creates beautiful, useful products that people around the world have used. He was kind enough to shared his thought process as to why good design is worth it.

According to Rams, the ten principle for good design are that your product will be:

  1. Innovative. Not innovative for innovation’s sake, but innovative hand-in-hand with innovative technology.
  2. Useful. You want your product to be used. Why would you design it and include anything that would get in the way of that?
  3. Aesthetic. A product should be beautiful. Your intent is that it is used often, daily even. You don’t want to affect people’s lives negatively by having them become accustomed to an ugly product.
  4. Understandable. A product’s design is part of what helps its user understand how to use it. They work together.
  5. Unobtrusive. A product should force itself on the user. It should be pleasing to look at, but not demand attention other than the fact that it is useful.
  6. Honest. Products should look like what they are. They shouldn’t have a facade that makes them appear to be more or less than what they are meant to do.
  7. Long-lasting. Quite simply, trends don’t last. Products that are trendy will soon look ridiculous and aged. Good design is ageless.
  8. Detailed focused. No guessing on if the user will figure it ou. Every detail of how the product will be used is considered important.
  9. Environmentally friendly. Design to use as few resources as possible. But also, does your product fit in with the environment it will be in? Is it a sign that clashes with the place it will end up?
  10. Have as little design as possible. Forget the frills and excess. Design what is necessary to make a beautiful product that is easy to use. No more.

What does it look like when you put it all into practice? Whether you’re designing for the web, print, or products, these ten principles apply.

These guidelines are good to use when you’re looking at your work and you’re not sure if you like what see. Just ask yourself one of the principles in the form of a questions (e.g. “Is it honest?”) and see how you answer that question. By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to zero in on what you need to change.

Do you actively use these ten design principles? Which is the most challenging for you?

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  • Giuseppe Biscotti

    “No guessing on if the user will figure it ou.”

    Should be “…figure it out.”