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The 10 Principles Of Good Design

As designers, developers, marketers, and consumers, how are any of us to know whether a design is good or not?

The answer is often subjective, yet there are common elements in any design that help to achieve success. Vitsœ’s designer, Dieter Rams asked himself the same question decades ago; his answer has helped create 10 universal principles that define good design:

Innovative.

As technology continues to advance, don’t just innovate for innovation’s sake. Innovate to serve a purpose. Design will continue to evolve along with technology, so embrace the possibilities and find new ways to communicate.

Useful.

The goal of any design is to be useful. Ask yourself, is there anything in my design that detracts from its end use?

Aesthetic.

Beauty and usefulness should go hand and hand. A product, website, or design may be useful, but if it is not pleasing to the eye there is little long-term use for it.

Understandable.

A design should be self-explanatory. Ultimately, in a perfect world, no directions should be necessary to understand how a product works.

Unobtrusive.

This is a difficult concept to grasp, but it is what has made companies such as Apple and Ikea so successful. A design should be neutral enough to leave room for the user’s self-expression while still defining a clear end use. This will allow a wider audience to use your website or product.

Honest.

Similar to false advertising, a design should not promise the impossible. Yes, your idea may be life changing, but simplify the message so that you do not over promise.

Long-lasting.

In short, trends don’t last. Products that are trendy will soon look outdated and passé. Good design is ageless.

Detailed focused.

Similar to being understandable, a design should consider every detail and direction to ensure users from all walks of life can understand the message.

Environmentally friendly.

Not only should design be sustainable and use as few resources as needed, but it should also embrace the environment around us and use cues from our world for inspiration.

Have as little design as possible.

The age-old saying “less is more” will help guide you to a beautiful design. Don’t over-design or over-complicate. As Dieter Rams said: Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Creating good design is without a doubt a difficult task to achieve. Which of these principles do you most relate to? Which do you find to be the hardest to grasp?
About the Author

Ali Green

Co-Founder and Creative Director
Schooled in both design and marketing, Ali adds the analytical skills of an engineer to complicated digital marketing strategies.

View Ali's Profile

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