The 10 Design Principles of Dieter Rams can serve as a yardstick for almost all design domains.
As we try to recollect the impression of today’s aesthetics in our minds, it usually comes to us as a default white space which is infinite with some colours and alphabets scattered around. Minimalism may have emerged as a trend but it is now turning into a movement of the era.
Dieter Rams, a well known German industrial designer has worked with Braun’s consumer products for more than 50 years now. The 10 design principles he created in order to evaluate his designs have become a yardstick for all the design domains.
We tried aligning his principles with various fields of design and found out that all of them can be used to make your website, application, software or product look and function better. Let’s look at some great examples of how well these ten principles reflect in a good design.
1. Innovation – Good design is a novel solution to overcome a difficulty.
Technological inventions have never allowed the scope of innovation to slow down. Then why work as a carbon copy by being replica or recreation of what already exists? Coming up with an innovation is a synonym for good design. Investing time and energy to build up something that solves a problem will make your design stand out and more effective.
Mailchimp is a website that allows you to generate marketing emails and automated messages using its variety of features and templates. It made its way into the most innovative companies of 2017 by coming up with innovative features. It introduced a multivariate testing feature where you could evaluate multiple email components starting from your subject line to the send time. Based on the number of clicks, sample group and various other parameters, you can determine the effectiveness between more than two emails.
2. Functionality – Good design generates usefulness.
Why should aesthetics compromise the purpose of a design? Utility is not a choice but the primary element of your design. A design may look appealing but unless it serves a purpose, how worth could it be.
Amazon kindle made digital books more useful and convenient with its ‘Time to Read’ feature. As you read a book on the kindle, it tracks the average speed with which you are reading and generates an estimate of the time that you will require to complete a chapter or the book. It becomes even more potential for the readers who like to plan their other reading commitments based on this.
3. Aesthetics – When it’s design, it’s always mandatory to look good.
How often do we see a fillip in our emotions when we look at a design, product, packaging or your favourite celebrity endorsing a brand in a TV commercial? We don’t mean to hurt your logical reasoning superpowers but the answer is always ‘Yes’. No doubt, the visual appeal of your design will build a psychological connection with the users and helps them to adapt to it.
Apple has been so immensely successful in creating user friendly designs because of its aesthetic style being clean and simple. The notification and control centre and the audio player in the iOS comprise of simple and flat icons and allow the operational attributes to remain hassle free and easily controllable that makes its users incline more to it
4. Understandability – Good design provides clarity.
We understand that designers are loaded with creative ideas floating inside their head but sometimes it puts your design in threat. Too much focus on creativity makes you blind and forget everything else around it. Creativity shouldn’t make your design look complex and difficult to understand. Clarity makes the user quick to grasp it.
Airbnb is an online marketplace that helps people to rent short-term accommodations and caters to a large group all around the world. Their visual and verbal language display emotions and generate a sense of togetherness that makes it easier for people of different frameworks and nationality to connect. The ‘diversity and belongings’ section of the website uses unified and universal imagery and verbal content.
5. Unobtrusiveness – Good design enables you to express.
Imagine you just came across an amazing online pizza delivery service and now you are curious to know more about it. But as you visit website, you find infinite number of pop ups coming your way to promote its new line of burgers. We know how annoyed your appetite would be. Similarly, a design shouldn’t kill the interest of the user to engage with it.
Medium, the online blog is a very good example for this. As the blog attracts large number of readers, it makes sure that reading remains a primary task. The header bar on the blog has been kept white to avoid distraction and hides away as you scroll down on an article page after signing in. This helps you to concentrate and exercise continuity while reading.
6. Honesty – Good design is not misleading.
You might think how could a good design be honest? Do they lie or cheat? Apparently, yes. Designs can cheat or mislead you by levering up expectations and not fulfilling them. Although, breaking up with designs won’t hurt you that bad.
Nike, an example of honest design, keeps experimenting and combining technology with design in its shoes. Recently, you must have come across a buzz about the shoes that are self lacing. No wonder, it was Nike. Once you slip your feet in and step up, these HyperAdapt shoes tigger a sensor in the heel and lace themselves, encasing your foot.
7. Versatility – Good design does not need to upgrade with trend.
Its always good to be classic than to be trendy. It simply means being long lasting, easily adaptable and compatible throughout, than to keep changing with trends.
Let’s take the example of Deiter Rams style of furniture itself at Vitsœ. He adds a classic touch to his designs that look modern but are a slight modification of the vintage products itself with minimal detailing.
8. Preciseness – Good design is clear and detailed.
What if you purchase a gadget without any labelling on it and spend hours discovering what each button could do? You would rather discard it than to be left thinking. As Dieter Rams said, the accuracy of a design is showing respect to the user. Each detail of the design needs to be self-explanatory and nothing should be left to make a guess of.
It’s obvious that any of us can be engulfed scrolling our Instagram feed gasping at the images. The application has been designed with significant amount of (white) breathing space to let the image content gain focus. The simple and universal icons with clear and crisp headlines make the app easy to control.
9. Sustainability – Good design is environmentally-friendly.
We borrow huge amount of resources from the environment and giving back becomes our duty. Therefore, a good design should be capable of minimising its impact on the environment at least at the stage of its usage or post usage.
Apple’s values aims to reduce environmental pollution caused by its gadget. It uses 100% renewable energy to power its data centres. If you send an iMessage or ask a question to Siri, it will be powered by solar, wind or hydro energy.
10. Minimalism – Good design is less but effective.
Minimalism has, of course, become the much talked about thing in design. And why not? Creating a simple and minimalistic design increases the realm of driving focus towards the salient aspects of any product. As soon as you start loading the product with peripheral details, the essential features start fading away.
The website of Whole Design Studios sets a clear picture of minimalistic web design. You can scroll down the content of the website on a clean white space differentiating the header and footer only with the change in background colour. The flat buttons with curved edges and the text in grey add a soft touch to the entire visual layout.
Takeaway: Minimalism and honest innovations enhance the usability and life span of a design.
A design must not be perceived only as a visual element to beautify the look of a product. Design primarily needs to be problem solving and focused on a particular function for which it has been created. The better it communicates itself to the user, the more versatile it is, and hence a GOOD DESIGN.