As I mentioned in my first post on Design Principles…
Design Principles are an extraordinary tool that I utilize on all of my design projects, because they really help designers go beyond the basics of product design (i.e. enhancing usability, increasing engagement, etc.) to mashup the business of design with your specific goals/needs/wants of your customers.
Let’s take a look at a few truly inspiring examples of Design Principles…
Example #1: Spotify Design Principles
In 2019, the members of the Spotify working group—about a dozen product designers and UX writers—got together to tackle the development of new design principles in a collaborative workshop. The aim was to get contributions from everyone in the group, instead of having one person articulate “this is what Spotify design should be.”
They used three guiding questions to keep them focused:
- Why are we creating these design principles?
- Who are they for?
- How will they be used?
After some lively debate, they agreed that principles serve as a framework to create and evaluate work—they can help product designers make design decisions, and give them a shared language for design critiques. The real challenge was defining what the new principles should be. What kind of values and design attributes should they aspire to when designing? What should the product feel like?
All the ideas went into a giant matrix, and they dot-voted to help narrow them down. Based on this, they came up with a draft of the new principles, shared it with their design leadership team, and did some fine-tuning.
And voilà! Their new set of Spotify design principles were born.
Example #2: Airbnb Design Principles
Airbnb was very ambitious and it required them to rethink some of the ways they worked. By focusing on the methods of working across disciplines, building better tools, and creating a unified system, they can now maximize their time to apply creativity to solve bigger challenges. This all started by creating design principles to guide their thinking and the development of their products.
Example #3: Paypal Design Principles
Example #4: Apple iOS Design Principles
People care about whether an app delivers the functionality it promises, but they’re also affected by the app’s appearance and behavior in strong—sometimes subliminal—ways. For example, an app that helps people perform a serious task can put the focus on the task by keeping decorative elements subtle and unobtrusive and by using standard controls and predictable behaviors. This app sends a clear, unified message about its purpose and its identity that helps people trust it. But if the app sends mixed signals by presenting the task in a UI that’s intrusive, frivolous, or arbitrary, people might question the app’s reliability or trustworthiness.
On the other hand, in an app that encourages an immersive task—such as a game—users expect a captivating appearance that promises fun and excitement and encourages discovery. People don’t expect to accomplish a serious or productive task in a game, but they expect the game’s appearance and behavior to integrate with its purpose.
To determine whether an iOS app follows the principle of consistency, think about these questions: Is the app consistent with iOS standards? Does it use system-provided controls, views, and icons correctly? Does it incorporate device features in ways that users expect?
Is the app consistent within itself? Does text use uniform terminology and style? Do the same icons always mean the same thing? Can people predict what will happen when they perform the same action in different places? Do custom UI elements look and behave the same throughout the app?
Within reason, is the app consistent with its earlier versions? Have the terms and meanings remained the same? Are the fundamental concepts and primary functionality essentially unchanged?
Using the Multi-Touch interface, people can pinch to directly expand or contract an image or content area. And in a game, players move and interact directly with onscreen objects—for example, a game might display a combination lock that users can spin to open.
In an iOS app, people experience direct manipulation when they:
Rotate or otherwise move the device to affect onscreen objects
Use gestures to manipulate onscreen objects
Can see that their actions have immediate, visible results
Subtle animation can give people meaningful feedback that helps clarify the results of their actions. For example, lists can animate the addition of a new row to help people track the change visually.
Sound can also give people useful feedback, but it shouldn’t be the only feedback mechanism because people can’t always hear their devices.
It’s best when an app uses a metaphor to suggest a usage or experience without letting the metaphor enforce the limitations of the object or action on which it’s based.iOS apps have great scope for metaphors because people physically interact with the screen. Metaphors in iOS include:
Moving layered views to expose content beneath them
Dragging, flicking, or swiping objects in a game
Tapping switches, sliding sliders, and spinning pickers
Flicking through pages of a book or magazine
Users feel more in control of an app when behaviors and controls are familiar and predictable. And when actions are simple and straightforward, users can easily understand and remember them.People expect to have ample opportunity to cancel an operation before it begins, and they expect to get a chance to confirm their intention to perform a potentially destructive action. Finally, people expect to be able to gracefully stop an operation that’s underway.
Design principles are aimed at helping designers find ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, teach users, and make sound design decisions during projects. These incredible examples from Spotify, PayPal, Airbnb, and Apple really help to tell the story at the intersection of brand, business, products, and design.
Check out these additional links if you’re still in need of design principle inspo: