What is good design?
Design is everywhere.
It’s in our gadgets, in our furniture, our cars.
On the web, developers should care about design as much as the users do. And they care a lot.
As we want to become better and better in web-design, however, this article is not about web design. It’s about good design in general.
The legendary industrial designer Dieter Rams once shared his knowledge of what good design is all about.
By the way, it is Dieter Rams that inspired Johnny Ive to create amazing design that he did at Apple all these years. Many of Dieter’s ideas found their way into Apple’s products, due to the ability of Ive to ‘steal’ the best ideas and to transform them into something truly extraordinary.
As good design cannot be measured in a finite way Dieter Rams set the ten most important principles for what he considered was good design. (Sometimes they are referred as the ‘Ten commandments’.)
Here they are:
1. Good design is innovative.
TP 1 radio/phono combination, 1959, by Dieter Rams for Braun
The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
2.Good design makes a product useful
MPZ 21 multipress citrus juicer, 1972, by Dieter Rams and Jürgen Greubel for Braun
A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
3. Good design is aesthetic
RT 20 tischsuper radio, 1961, by Dieter Rams for Braun
The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
4. Good design makes product understandable.
T 1000 world receiver, 1963, by Dieter Rams for Braun
It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.
5. Good design in unobtrusive.
Cylindric T 2 lighter, 1968, by Dieter Rams for Braun
Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
6. Good design in honest.
L 450 flat loudspeaker, TG 60 reel-to-reel tape recorder and TS 45 control unit, 1962-64, by Dieter Rams for Braun
It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
7. Good design in long-lasting.
620 Chair Programme, 1962, by Dieter Rams for Vitsœ
It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
8. Good design in thorough down to the last detail.
ET 66 calculator, 1987, by Dietrich Lubs for Braun
Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user.
8. Good design in environmentally-friendly.
606 Universal Shelving System, 1960, by Dieter Rams for Vitsœ
Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
10. Good design is as little design as possible.
L 2 speaker, 1958, by Dieter Rams for Braun
Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.
Back to purity, back to simplicity.