The 10 commandments of Product Design

We put together the ten fundamental principles of product design to help design teams to optimize their work process.

Aerolab
Aerolab
Feb 2, 2017 · 6 min read

Since we founded Aerolab, we’ve worked with all kinds of clients. While most of them were young startups linked to the tech world, we have also had the opportunity to work with companies that have long track record as well as a more traditional business profile.

When dealing with the latter type of clients, we realized that most of them weren’t quite familiarized neither with the main UX/UI concepts nor with the foundations of digital product development. Because of this, whenever we tackled a project, we had to justify each one of the usability decisions we had made during our work process. And that procedure took up valuable time from our weekly meetings.

So we came up with a great idea.

We decided to create a document with the fundamental principles of digital product design, and then we shared it with our clients to bridge over our differences in criteria and speed up the work processes. That’s how we brought forward the 10 commandments of product design.

Here’s what happened: our clients adopted our commandments as their own, and from there on, they themselves started analyzing and monitoring the progress of the different projects taking into account those premises we had put together.

“The commandments helped us to be on the same page with our clients regarding the goals we wanted to reach and the steps that should be followed in order to accomplish them. That allowed us to speed up the decision-making process and move forward a lot faster our workflow,” pointed out Juani Ruiz Echazú, Aerolab’s UX director.

This is the first part of the 10 commandments of product design:

1. WE DON’T COUNT AS USERS OF OUR APPS

At times, clients believe that everything they offer on their platform is what users want and need. This is a mistake. Each person is a world of interests, preferences and different needs. Because of this, each user makes use of the apps prioritizing certain functions while ignoring others.

Following this, in order to create a platform that is both engaging and useful to our audience, we need to forget about our personal interests and aim at meeting the needs of our target audience. To do so, it’s essential that we previously create a Customer Journey Map and define detailed user personas to make sure that every design, usability and development decision we made is backed up by statistics and use cases.

2. A FEW WELL-CONCEIVED FUNCTIONS ARE WORTH MORE THAN LOTS OF THEM DONE HALFWAY

When faced with a digital project, we must always have in mind that deadlines are sacred, and it’s as much a responsibility for the client as for the product development team to mind those deadlines. That’s why in a first version of the product it’s paramount to prioritize only those functions which point at meeting the users’ needs.

In terms of user experience, it’s much more valuable to properly execute the main three features which are used by 80% of users, instead of those other ten that the clients want to add to their app. We mustn’t forget we have a short span of time to develop a product, of which its first version has to be 100% usable.

3. TACKLE THINGS GENERALLY FIRST, AND ONLY THEN SPECIFICALLY

Nowadays, there’s an overload of information everywhere. The way in which information is visualized in an app determines to a great extent the experience that the users have in our platform. That’s why in every digital product there must be at least two “reading levels”.

In the first level, the user is provided with a processed summary of the information. If people show interest in that content, they will then dive deeper into the second level, where a more complete and detailed amount of data will be displayed. Organizing information in this way allows users to decide whether or not they want to further deepen certain aspects that were interesting to them.

This principle regarding the disposition of content works in a way similar to window displays. In them, shop owners don’t put everything they have for sale, but select those products which will draw the shoppers’ attention. In this sense, if consumers want to see what other stuff is sold there — or if they want to check the price of a certain product — , they’ll just enter and ask.

4. MAKE SOME DECISIONS ON USERS’ BEHALF

When creating digital products, our main purpose should always be to make users’ life easier. That means we should our users from thinking about how to interact with our platform.

In order to accomplish this, we have to take up the responsibility of thinking on our users’ behalf, so that they don’t waste time and effort in understanding our app. Interaction with our product should feel intuitive and natural. That’s why it’s paramount that we define the default configuration that best fits our users’ profile and needs.

Any app we chose to design must follow a certain flow and have a clear path. No matter which screen our users are on, they must always know exactly where they are, where to go or how to return to the place where they previously were.

5. GET TO KNOW THE USERS, REMEMBER THEIR HABITS AND EASE THEIR FLOW

When putting user stories together, we must delve into the different aspects which define the personality of our target users. The aim is to create a thorough profile to be able to determine how people would potentially use our apps and what is the most interesting thing about them, according to our users. Once we define what our users are like and how they think, it’s a lot easier to foresee their actions and make the right decisions regarding the design and development of our product.

In fact, our platform is a very useful tool to gather information that will allow us to build a more pleasant and customized experience. For instance, if we ask our users to type in some personal information to sign up, we can then greet them by using their names. On top of that, we can remember which features they use the most, so that the next time around they have better access to them.

Don’t miss the second part of this article! 👇

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Aerolab

We design and develop beautiful digital products for startups and leading brands.

Aerolab Stories

We do what we love, and we tell you all about it.

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