These principles are relative to interface and user experience design, but also stand true for other forms of design as well. It’s amazing how universal the principles of design really are! I’ve followed these basic design principles my entire career and they have never failed me. Hopefully they will help you too.
1. Question Every Single Decision
When we run into a design problem, we have the tendency to mimic other solutions we’ve seen elsewhere. Our brains are hardwired to make the quickest decision, but that decision doesn’t mean it’ll be the right experience for your product. Break down and analyse your decision and ask yourself WHY. Why do you think your initial decision is a good fit? Wait… is it actually a good fit? Take the extra time to dig deep and think outside of traditional solutions. Even similar design problems have slight differences to consider, such as audiences and devices used. Basically, don’t be afraid to create new design paradigms; you can always fall back to that traditional solution if you really bomb it.
2. Find the Most Simple Solution Possible
This also goes hand-in-hand with the first design principle we talked about. Sometimes that solution we’ve seen elsewhere can be simplified. Find what you believe is the best solution for your design problem, then break it down into its most simplest form. Analyse how each piece corresponds with one another and see if any of these pieces can be simplified or combined into a single action. You might be surprised to find how many unnecessary steps there are in what you would consider a traditional design paradigm.
3. Get Feedback Often & Actually Listen to It
One of the biggest issues I see with designers is the lack of or willingness to take feedback. As designers, we get stuck in our narrow design-centric mindsets. We get too close and too passionate about what we think is a ‘cool’ design decision. We need fresh eyes and outside opinions to really tell us if we’ve done our job correctly. Maybe that design style you like gives off the wrong vibe to your users. Maybe you’re too stuck on that ‘cool’ idea you’ve been wanting to try out and it’s actually confusing your users and causing more harm than good. This detached, outside feedback will give you that sobering reality you need so that your user experience stays top notch.
4. Don’t Be Lazy, Never Stop Learning
This is straightforward. Never stop growing as a designer! Going back to what I mentioned in the first principle, not every project is exactly the same. You have no excuse to design something the same way twice. Stay outside of your comfort zone and push your own boundaries. That’s the only real way to grow as a designer.
5. Form & Function Must Be Equal
Our jobs as User Experience and Interface Designers is to make products easy and enjoyable to use. These two things directly correspond with one another. Neither should ever outweigh the other. Make sure you don’t get too crazy with that design style to the point that it affects the overall experience of the product. Design for ease of use, then style appropriately. You should never do it the other way around.
And that’s the basics. Keep these principles in mind as you create and they will help you design beautiful and user-friendly interfaces.