Communicating our ideas effectively in the fast-paced design and development era can be challenging. We can easily get lost in a sea of interpretations when we lack clear values to guide our decisions.
In this blog, I’ll share the product design principles that have helped me create a consistent framework for my decision-making process.
1. Master the basics
Great design creates aesthetic communication and intuitive usability.
Your customers won’t be able to achieve their goals if they get lost or ignore your design in the first place.
That’s why having a solid design foundation is crucial. The fundamental elements, such as typography, colour, composition, etc., help facilitate efficient communication, allowing customers to navigate your design effectively and better utilise its benefits.
“ I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. — Bruce Lee.
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Learn to break design apart and put it back together.
- Learn from the masters in other industries too.
2. Stay true to your values and be honest
Great design builds trust and fosters long-term relationships.
If you mislead or manipulate your customers for short-term gain, you will eventually pay the long-term price of keeping something hidden from them.
Integrity from within will drive honesty in every aspect of your work. Always strive to set the right expectations with your customers and those around you. It’s always better to focus on those who appreciate your authenticity.
“ People overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years. — Bill Gates.
- Dream big and have the discipline to play the long game.
- Regularly reflect on your values and their impact on your design.
- Ask for what you really want, not what others are willing to give.
3. Outcomes over output
Great design makes a positive impact.
Customers use the products that speak to them, not the product that talks at them.
There is a significant difference between delivering products and delivering value. The features you ship are the output. The impact it changes on people’s lives is the outcome. A company may hire you to create the output, but you are accountable for customer outcomes.
“ It’s not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and yes, beauty to people’s lives. — Don Norman.
- Seek new use cases, new problems, and new opportunities before defining the design solutions.
- Be creative and use imagination; the most remarkable outcomes are never obvious.
- Be brave; a new idea has never come from the majority.
4. Shorten the distance between discovery and delivery
Great designs constantly improve at a rapid rate.
The fantastic discovery that can’t be delivered is cheap talk that costs a lot.
If you can specify your design process end-to-end upfront, chances are the job is either too easy or you’re exaggerating. Do not spend much time making a complex plan based on assumptions—make constant iterations that quickly adapt to customers’ feedback.
“ Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. — Mike Tyson.
- Create a hypothesis and quickly validate them.
- Continuous improvement and experimentation.
- Learn to understand tech feasibility and push the boundaries.
5. Serve customers in a way that works for the business
Great design creates a new ecosystem.
Customers and businesses are like yin and yang — each dependent on the other for existence.
The job of product designers is to be courageous enough to introduce a car, even if the business is selling horses. Because that’s the best way to keep yin and yang harmonised together.
“ If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. — Henry Ford.
- Stay close to the customers and distinguish facts from opinions.
- Learn the business language and be an interpreter for your customers.
- Stop being an employee; be an entrepreneur.
I’ve found that having a set of clear and actionable design principles is essential for achieving success as a designer.
By relying on design principles, we can make more informed decisions, collaborate more effectively, and ultimately create a meaningful impact through our design.
It took me over a decade of self-awareness, blood, sweat, and tears from my career to discover the consistent principles for my professional and personal life.
I believe that by sharing these principles with others in the design community, we can continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible and drive positive change in the design industry together.
I hope my principles may help you find your way to discovering your own principles too.
Thanks for reading.