How to define Design Principles for a digital product?

Design Principles How might we create a coherent & meaningful set of design principles that informs the design system, brand guide, and product design? There are no standard definitions for design principles and visual design language. These are some of the many open terms in design that may seem esoteric to some. Having crafted design principles and design languages in personal and professional arenas of design, here is what I have found them to be. What are Design Principles? Well-deliberated design principles reflect the shared beliefs & values of what good design means to the team as well as capture the aspirational vision of the product. They act as the North Star in an ever-changing world; as guiding posts constantly reminding the designers what good design collectively means to them in their specific product context and how to align back in case they diverge. The challenge of articulation Clear design principles are necessary not just to craft a conviction-inducing visual language but to put in context the design practices to the greater product thinking practice. However, design principles often become hard to articulate and capture in a simple structure let alone arrive at it from nothing. Setting up the brief! Let’s take a food-related consumer-facing product, Fittle as an example. Say, Fittle is a Proof-of-Concept application and has 300-ish users. Charged with newfound business confidence in the idea, the design team (you) is required to define a convincing & cohesive visual language for Fittle and establish the currently lacking consistency to the product. How might we create a coherent & meaningful set of design principles that informs the design system, brand guide, and product design practise? Understanding Fittle’s vision and mission Design Principles should be subtle extensions of the vision and mission of the product. The domain as well as the fine design taste of the creators reflect in the principles. APRIRATIONFittle wants to be an aspirational brand like Apple of Food Space. MISSIONEnable everyone to eat right, one plate at a time. VISIONWe envision a world where people know what is right for them to eat and can acquire it at will and take ownership of their own health. Fittle is a super-app for anything food disguised as an innocent meal planner. You will need a workshop with your team to craft your first set of design principles. Making this a team exercise is essential for propagation and adoption of the principles across the team effectively. To the user, Fittle appears like a courteous waiter full of suggestions of what to eat as well as when to eat. If Fittle were a courteous waiter, what impressions would you like others to have of him/her? Braindump Adjectives Braindump with your team to collect all the worthy adjectives that describe the Fittle waiter. For this example, I did it alone. Clustering Collectively cluster the adjectives into 4 buckets— How would he/she make you feel? How would he/she talk? How would he/she act? What outlook about him/her is intended? It is essential to collectively discuss and prioritise on the most important top 2 adjectives per bucket to keep things smooth and low on complexity later on. Many adjectives were synonyms and hence were omitted from brainstormElicit Design Values You can adapt these adjectives to the specific digital context of Fittle. Here the opinions of the team shine through the most as the conversion to the digital context is highly subjective and open to interpretation. The business vision of the product and the design aspiration should be used as the guiding posts to arrive at the design values e.g. for Fittle, the business aspiration at the core is educating the users on right eating & the design taste is biased towards starkly minimal visuals. The Design Principles Design principles need to be internalised across the team and the company through constant deliberate effort. Hence, having over 4 principles is a serious impediment to adoption by the larger teams. It helps to strategically filter, rephrase or adapt the design values as per the vision & mission of the product to arrive at the design principles. RationaleThe first three values aim to capture the idea of trust, familiarity & memorability. But we automatically tend to trust familiar things we are comfortable with. Consistency breeds trust & memorability arguably aids in making things familiar faster. Hence, I chose the phrase ‘consistently memorable’ which capture the goals of the three values well. WYSIWYG & Minimal are two values focused on user experience challenges. While the former is starkly about honesty and the latter hints at having precision in a number of choices. Focusing literally on the ‘honest’ value, I chose the phrase ‘Precisely Honest.’ The last two values are about personalisation & continuous education of the users. These are linked directly to the product vision and hence, are retained and amplified in meaning. Fittle Design Principles Once

How to define Design Principles for a digital product?

Design Principles

How might we create a coherent & meaningful set of design principles that informs the design system, brand guide, and product design?

There are no standard definitions for design principles and visual design language. These are some of the many open terms in design that may seem esoteric to some. Having crafted design principles and design languages in personal and professional arenas of design, here is what I have found them to be.

What are Design Principles?

Well-deliberated design principles reflect the shared beliefs & values of what good design means to the team as well as capture the aspirational vision of the product.

They act as the North Star in an ever-changing world; as guiding posts constantly reminding the designers what good design collectively means to them in their specific product context and how to align back in case they diverge.

The challenge of articulation

Clear design principles are necessary not just to craft a conviction-inducing visual language but to put in context the design practices to the greater product thinking practice. However, design principles often become hard to articulate and capture in a simple structure let alone arrive at it from nothing.

Setting up the brief!

Let’s take a food-related consumer-facing product, Fittle as an example. Say, Fittle is a Proof-of-Concept application and has 300-ish users. Charged with newfound business confidence in the idea, the design team (you) is required to define a convincing & cohesive visual language for Fittle and establish the currently lacking consistency to the product.

How might we create a coherent & meaningful set of design principles that informs the design system, brand guide, and product design practise?

Understanding Fittle’s vision and mission

Design Principles should be subtle extensions of the vision and mission of the product. The domain as well as the fine design taste of the creators reflect in the principles.

APRIRATION
Fittle wants to be an aspirational brand like Apple of Food Space.
MISSION
Enable everyone to eat right, one plate at a time.
VISION
We envision a world where people know what is right for them to eat and can acquire it at will and take ownership of their own health.

Fittle is a super-app for anything food disguised as an innocent meal planner.

You will need a workshop with your team to craft your first set of design principles. Making this a team exercise is essential for propagation and adoption of the principles across the team effectively.

To the user, Fittle appears like a courteous waiter full of suggestions of what to eat as well as when to eat.

If Fittle were a courteous waiter, what impressions would you like others to have of him/her?

Braindump Adjectives

Braindump with your team to collect all the worthy adjectives that describe the Fittle waiter. For this example, I did it alone.

Clustering

Collectively cluster the adjectives into 4 buckets—

  1. How would he/she make you feel?
  2. How would he/she talk?
  3. How would he/she act?
  4. What outlook about him/her is intended?
It is essential to collectively discuss and prioritise on the most important top 2 adjectives per bucket to keep things smooth and low on complexity later on.
Many adjectives were synonyms and hence were omitted from brainstorm

Elicit Design Values

You can adapt these adjectives to the specific digital context of Fittle. Here the opinions of the team shine through the most as the conversion to the digital context is highly subjective and open to interpretation. The business vision of the product and the design aspiration should be used as the guiding posts to arrive at the design values e.g. for Fittle, the business aspiration at the core is educating the users on right eating & the design taste is biased towards starkly minimal visuals.

The Design Principles

Design principles need to be internalised across the team and the company through constant deliberate effort. Hence, having over 4 principles is a serious impediment to adoption by the larger teams. It helps to strategically filter, rephrase or adapt the design values as per the vision & mission of the product to arrive at the design principles.

Rationale
The first three values aim to capture the idea of trust, familiarity & memorability. But we automatically tend to trust familiar things we are comfortable with. Consistency breeds trust & memorability arguably aids in making things familiar faster. Hence, I chose the phrase ‘consistently memorable’ which capture the goals of the three values well.

WYSIWYG & Minimal are two values focused on user experience challenges. While the former is starkly about honesty and the latter hints at having precision in a number of choices. Focusing literally on the ‘honest’ value, I chose the phrase ‘Precisely Honest.’

The last two values are about personalisation & continuous education of the users. These are linked directly to the product vision and hence, are retained and amplified in meaning.

Fittle Design Principles

Once you find your design principles, extensively document these principles before the hard-earned subtle clarity is lost! Later more examples on how to use these principles can be added.

???? Made with Love & Care.

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