12 principles of digital product design
This article was written by the psychologist and designer Wouter de Bres, and in fact the material is a collection of principles by which they work in the author’s team.
These principles were written for internal use, and help all participants in the process to make design decisions. Today we can read these tips on how to correctly approach the development of a digital product.
1. First, define the task
Digital design always solves the problem, otherwise it’s just pixel art. A clear understanding of the task is the basis for a successful design solution. Therefore, when discussing product and design in general, always define the problem first before proposing solutions. A detailed study of the problem leads to a quality solution.
2. More value, fewer elements
Simplicity is the key to the best user experience. Create just a few functions, but make it really good. Show fewer elements, use a simplified style to reduce cognitive load. Learn to say “No” to prevent the main functionality from drowning in the trash of unnecessary elements.
3. Design achievements
Good design helps a company achieve its business goals. A design can be considered successful if the conversion rate and user experience become measurably better. Understanding the bottom line for a product is the goal. It should be accessible and understandable to everyone working on the project. Everyone should know exactly what problems are being solved.
4. Strive for consistency
Be consistent in layout, design, typography, and interaction to reduce cognitive load on the user. Use the style guide as a box of building blocks from which you pull out uniform elements that you can’t change and build a consistent user experience out of them. We are not creating a screen or features, but a platform independent service with a consistent user experience.
5. Focus the user on one primary action at a time
Lead the user by focusing on the main task. Be ruthless about priorities, make choices stupidly simple. Limit distractions. All elements and styling that do not help the user focus on the main task should be considered visual garbage that distracts the visitor. Remember that everything in the interface must be processed by the user’s brain. The less you need to process, the less the cognitive load.
6. Minimize data entry
Data entry also takes a lot of time and effort for users. Always try to minimize the amount of information required from visitors. Each data entry requirement creates an annoying effect and increases the chances of the user turning around and leaving.
7. Use the language of your users
Words can clarify or, conversely, confuse the user. Choose the presentation style that your users use. Be as simple and informative as possible. Primary descriptive and auxiliary functions, secondary individuality. Don’t sound like a system, we are all human.
8. Make decisions for users
Don’t be afraid to make decisions for your users. You will give them fewer choices and they will feel more confident because there will be fewer worries. Remember the paradox of choice: if you give users too many options to choose from, they will feel overwhelmed by this amount of information, because in order to achieve, you need to explore each option.
9. Design according to a strict visual hierarchy
There are different ways to create visual hierarchy in design, position, size, colors, free space. Establish a strong visual hierarchy in each design. Don’t let elements, actions, or functions compete for the user’s attention.
10. Aligning elements
The easiest way to achieve visual balance is to align the elements and structure of your design with a clear grid. This will allow you to move in the right direction when placing elements and sizing, and it will be easier for users to understand the interface.
11. Don’t chase the “Wow effect”
Never chase the wow effect. Design is successful when it solves a problem or meets a user’s need in the best possible way. Design an effective and enjoyable product. The response you need to expect from users is, “Of course! It is obvious!”.
12. Design to change
No design is complete forever. Don’t be afraid to throw away pieces of finished work, functionality, or design. Good design always evolves and grows with the business. Future-proof design allows you to quickly adapt work to new technologies and requirements. Every feature introduced takes time to be improved. When you launch something new, study the result and improve the functionality.
Photo in the article: ShutterStock