January 25, 2021

10 Principles of Good Design by Dieter Rams

If you’ve chosen design as a profession, you might have heard about “10 Principles of good design” or “10 Commandments”. They were formulated by Dieter Rams, who asked himself ‘Is my design good design?’ Since then millions of creatives worldwide found these ideas brilliant and got inspired to develop good designs only. Let’s see what good design means and how this philosophy may be interpreted in UI/UX design.
Kevin Cannon
Product Designer
10 Principles of Good Design by Dieter Rams

In case you’re wondering who that man is. Dieter Rams is one of the most famous industrial designers, who made a real revolution in design-thinking. By producing aesthetic and user-friendly electronic gadgets, Rams made Braun a world-famous brand and a household name in the 1950s. 

In 1976 Rams gave a speech in New York on his design work for Vitsoe, in which he introduced the idea of sustainable development and asked designers to take more responsibility for the world around us. Every human-made thing has its own design, which means that every designer has a great impact on how our world looks (UI design) and works (UX design).

1. Good design is innovation.

Technology helps people to solve problems. And each new problem should be solved with a new technology. 

When creating any interface, with each iteration of design you should see the progress of your solution. Just ask yourself: “What is the purpose of my design?”. 

Develop a new vision on old things. That is how the “face ID” feature appeared to solve the old task—to unlock your phone.

2. Good design makes a product useful

Products are created to be used. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product, but satisfies also psychological and aesthetic criteria.

If you visit some web store to buy a pair of sneakers, what’s more important for you—to quickly find and buy a pair of sneakers or enjoy a beautiful animation on the home page?

3. Good design is aesthetic

Each change in shape or texture of the object should be made to maximize the object's capacity to fulfill its initial purpose. Try to cut off all unnecessary things without losing the usefulness of the product. Is our design aesthetic? Watch our works

4. Good design makes a product understandable

When you hold a pair of scissors in your hand, you’re able to fit your hand perfectly into the handle and begin using them. 

Make your design in a way where a user doesn't need additional explanation of how to use this or that function. But if this explanation is needed, for some new things, keep it simple.

5. Good design is unobtrusive

Everyone knows the Swiss Army knife, which is used to consider as a very helpful and “well-designed” thing. Even if you had it, how many of these tools would you actually use? And how often

When a user opens a mobile app or a website, he doesn't want to be bombarded by intrusive pop-ups, ads, or busy sidebars. He should always remember the reason why he is actually there.

6. Good design is honest

Fake Rolex won’t work the same way as the original one. Good design is always about telling the truth, not to give promises that cannot be kept.

7. Good design is long-lasting

Let’s take a plastic water bottle. It’s cheap and convenient, and even functions properly. But today thousands of these bottles are floating in oceans and pollute the environment. They are poorly designed, because they were well designed for “today”, not for “tomorrow”.

Good design withstands trends. Try to think about the value your product could provide in future.

8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail

That’s not enough to make a fantastic Home Page and relax. Pay attention to all parts of the design system: from prototypes to small UI elements your design must look holistically.

It’s very helpful to develop the UI Kit and Style Guide for these reasons. 

9. Good design is environmentally-friendly

Let’s agree that digital design already sounds like an eco-friendly solution. Imagine, how many trees were saved due to the development of the Internet.

But what we can get from this principle for UI/UX design is minimization of resources used all throughout the process. Help users save their time for saving the planet ☺️ Less talk—more action.

10. Good design is as little design as possible

“An impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises,” — this is how Rams had seen the state of the world around him. As each person is a part of this world, each person may contribute to its purity and simplicity. 

Minimalism is all about living with less. And good design is minimalistic. Nothing must distract users from really important things. Focus on them!

Thanks for reading! There is 1 more good designer in the world now ;)

  • download a free set of posters ‘10 principles of good design’ 

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