While not a question I get often, it’s still an important one for any designer to ask themselves. I personally follow Dieter Rams’ “10 Principles for Good Design.” Although created almost 40-50 years ago, they still hold up today. Here I will condense those principles and add in some of my own thoughts on what constitutes good design.
1. Ease of use and user friendliness
“Don’t make me think.” At its best, good design is self-explanatory. For example, it should be obvious as to how everything functions on a web page. Each image, text, and button should have a clear purpose and/or function.
2. Environmentally Friendly
Good design is not wasteful. It uses as little resources as possible and can endure for a long period of time without needing to be replaced.
3. Aesthetically Pleasing
Aesthetics are what brings something from being simply usable to enjoyable. It is without visual clutter and serves to elevate every other facet of its design.
Timeless design does not follow trends. For example, a logo that looks aesthetically pleasing and functions well today should do the same tomorrow.
Good design keeps in mind the human nature of its users. It anticipates users needs and minimizes human error. Users should not need to act or think like a computer in order to interact with it. Good design adapts to us, not the other way around.
Honest design does not pretend to be something it’s not. It does not attempt to persuade the user into thinking it is more valuable or has more use than it does.
The next time you interact with an app on your phone, a website on your laptop, or even the radio in your car, keep in mind these principles and see for yourself how they stack up. Being more conscious of good design as a designer will help you think more clearly and focus on the end goal of any project. And as a user, it will help you differentiate between good and bad products and services.