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Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design

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In the Footsteps of a Legend

Many of us that work in the creative arts are familiar with Dieter Rams, a highly regarded industrial designer. Even if you are not familiar with Mr. Rams, though, you have almost certainly used products that were influenced by his work. Over the course of his career he developed ten principles for “good design” that continue to inspire creative professionals, such as Apple’s Jonathan Ive.

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Applying Dieter Rams’ Principles

At this month’s NoVA UX meetup David Rhynes, a user experience designer at 3 Pillar Global, talked about applying Mr. Rams’ principles to user experience work particularly in the digital space:

Good Design Is Innovative: The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

Good Design Makes a Product UsefulA product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

Good Design Is AestheticThe aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

Good Design Makes A Product UnderstandableIt clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.

Good Design Is UnobtrusiveProducts fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

Good Design Is HonestIt does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

Good Design Is Long-lastingIt avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last DetailNothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.

Good Design Is Environmentally FriendlyDesign makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

Good Design Is as Little Design as PossibleLess, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

For more examples of these principles and how to put them to work, check out David’s talk over on slideshare, “Less, But Better – Dieter Rams’ Principles of Good Design.”

Interested in User Experience?

Join us each month at AddThis HQ for NoVA UX meetups that cover a broad range of topics relevant to design, UX, front-end and mobile development, creative strategy, user research and much more.

Cover image courtesy of Flickr.

  • Akzent

    Absolutely!!

  • Administrator

    Waste of time. The same talking points have be raised elsewhere mutliple times but with concrete examples and direct application exploration. As far as can be seen here, the very design of the page is to fool the lazy into thinking there is actual, actionable advice and substance. There isn’t. This is an advertisement for something they MIGHT be found elsewhere. Lo and behold, there’s the link at the end after scrolling for five screens.

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