10 Principles of Good Product Design

NOTE: I’ve published this article on the fry’s internal blog and sharing it here with permission. We’re working on a design system and re-evaluating how we make design decisions within the company and this is the result of our research.

Good design is:

  1. Simple
  2. Universal
  3. Conversational
  4. Empathic
  5. Straightforward
  6. Predictable
  7. Consistent
  8. Honest
  9. Empowering
  10. Ever-evolving

Simple

Aim for the lowest design conventions and elements that convey your message. Good design should be simple for the users to understand and simple for the developers to work with. There cannot be one without the other.

Good design is drop-dead simple.

Universal

Good design is accessible for everyone, no matter their age, gender, race or ethnicity or disabilities. Consider how your design affects all your users, with a focus on the most vulnerable. Acknowledge that you are not the target user of your product.

Good design has everyone’s needs at heart.

Conversational

Good design is welcoming. Consider using a conversational tone in all communications throughout your design. Make sure you are easily understood without sounding robotic. People talk and interact with people. Good design should facilitate that interaction and not even feel like it’s there. Avoid jargon and be clear, kind and warm in your design. Be gentle. Be human.

Good design is like a good conversation.

Emphatic

Good design should stem from stepping outside your comfort zone and trying to understand and see the world through your users’ point of view. Good design understands what makes people tick, why they do what they do and how they do it. Aim to facilitate those interactions and to create positive experiences for your users by avoiding to attach your ego to your designs.

Good design understands users better than they understand themselves.

Straightforward

Good design avoids ambiguity. Don’t demand that your users engage in a complex thought process when interacting with your design. Don’t create unnecessary complexity. Avoid being clever in our design and don’t assume your users will just get it.

Good design is effortless.

Predictable

Good design focuses on clarity. Questions like “What does this button do” or “Why did I land on this page” have no place in your design. Good design is predictable at all times. Eliminate the risk of misunderstanding from your design. If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it should be a duck.

Good design means “of course” not “WOW!”

Consistent

Good design follows clear standards, a set of guidelines and conventions, as well as best practices. Usability is greatly increased when similar ideas are expressed in similar ways. If it looks the same, it should behave the same.

Good design is consistent design.

Honest

Good design is clear up front about what is happening and why. Aim to be sincere and honest in all your communications towards your users. Avoid design that tricks the user into completing actions without their knowledge or prior understanding. You should aim to earn trust from the first interaction and keep it throughout the product experience. Good design builds a positive, mutually-beneficial relationship between your product and your users.

Good design inspires trust.

Empowering

Good design acknowledges that different people have different levels of technical chops. Good design should empower everyone that interacts with your product. It should make them feel like they know how to use it, regardless of how many features they use. Features should be easily discoverable and each feature should provide additional value.

Good design engages beginners and delights experts.

Ever-evolving

Good design is not set in stone. It is constantly undergoing an evolution as you re-evaluate your users’ needs and how they interact with your product. As best practices change, good design changes and grows with them.

Good design is never done.

We’ve explored tens of companies and how they do design and tried to apply that research to how we want our users to feel when they use our products.

For more design principles, you can continue reading here.