What´s Good Design?

There are just as many opinions on what ‘good design’ is as there are ‘designed’ objects. While some believe that good design is merely a visual characteristic, others claim that function should always trump form to be good design.

Dieter Rams, legendary designer, crafted ten rules of what good design is. Even if you’re not familiar with Dieter’s work, you’re probably familiar with work that’s highly inspired by it!

Anyways, the ten rules that Dieter set were the following:

  1. Good Design is Innovative
  2. Good Design Makes a Product Useful
  3. Good Design is Aesthetic
  4. Good Design Makes a Product Understandable
  5. Good Design is Unobtrusive
  6. Good Design is Honest
  7. Good Design is Long-lasting
  8. Good Design is Thorough Down to the Last Detail
  9. Good Design is Environmentally Friendly
  10. Good Design is as Little Design as Possible

While most of these are pretty obvious, there are a few that I’d like to take a closer look at.

Good Design is useful AND understandable - and they are not the same

Dieter clearly states that making a product ‘useful’ and ‘understandable’ are two different concepts and often companies will confuse the two when developing new products. They assume that “this is really useful (for us) so it’s surely understandable (at least for us) as well.” As the barriers to creating new products have lowered for years, it seems we’ve been less inclined to ask ourselves, “Is this useful?” We now have access to more and more frameworks, allowing us to have something up and running in just hours, but we’ve started to skip asking ourselves, “Is this understandable?”

Good Design is as Little Design as Possible

Some weeks ago I relaunched my website and one of the comments over at DesignerNews was the following:

Redesign? There is no design? Simple white page with text..

While I can see what this person means in theory - I’m confused as what would require for something to ‘be a design’. Colors? Shapes? Is a Mark Rothko not as much a painting as a da Vinci because it has no clear motif?

Rothko

You know bad design when you encounter it. From every chair you’ve sat in that hurt your ass, to every coffee cup that burned your hand, to every time your finger triggered the wrong link on your phone, to every airline booking site that pissed you off. You know bad design. You hate it. -Mike Monteiro

Everything is designed. The only difference is how much effort that has been put into the design. Nothing is “un-designed”. Even that Comic Sans note in your copier room - is designed by someone (who clearly shouldn’t be in charge of making notes).

I want my content to be in focus. I want to give my readers a pleasant reading experience without any email opt-ins popping up. There will be no “lead forms” and no bright colors to sway their eyes in a different direction. To me, that’s good design. To others, that’s apparently ‘no design’… 🤔

What I’m missing - Good Design is Uniting

One of my favorite designed products is my bike. Even though I’m a neutral-colored kinda guy , I love the look of my golden Martone bike.

Martone

I love it’s clean lines combined with the attitude of that golden yellow color. I use it far too little, but whenever I do I hear people - mostly 15-year old boys - shout, “Wow, look at that cool bike!” So while the design preferences of myself and a 15-year old boy is surely different from each other, we’re still united in our love of this designed product.

I really wish we’d see that more in digital products too.

Get more writing like this

Sign up and get new writing, just like this, every other two weeks. Unsubscribe any time (I'm not a dickhead).

Latest writing

The Cost of Lies

Big Mood Machine

Simplicity is a war

The next iPhone

Working as a UX-lead

Leadership or management

Everyone should own a dog

Silence is gold

Cameras that understand

Humans, not users

Keeping AI Honest

Right to privacy

2018 in review

What’s my location?

The State of UX in 2019

Why scrap scrappy?

I’m taking a break

Organized for browsing

Stay humble, stay eager

The iPhone Franchise

Why Small Teams Win

Back to Work!

The Bullshit Web

Just keep at it

Let them eat cake

Netflix Culture

Skype

Unfoundered

Vanity Metrics

Tech is not Neutral

Productivity

Whose risk?

Why Small Teams Win

Phone Bored

Karim Rashid

Dieter Rams

Bleeding Out

Fake News is spam

Conversational Design

Dropbox

Bye bye Facebook

Cuba

The seat at the table

Givenchy

Love letters to trees

Pricing Philisophy

Specialize

Personas

Make me think

The Future of Retail

Hawaii Missile Alert

2017 review

Why Design Systems fail

What You Build

Checkout for Winners

Living a Testing Culture

What do you do?

Creative Class

How To Predict Your Future

Carpe Diem UX-designers

What´s Good Design?

Chasing Growth

Github

Medium

A Redesign

Design quotes

Enough

Why?

ARKit

Designing for Mobile

Is Less More?

Why Simple is Hard

Pricing It Perfectly

Failure, Reflect, Renew

Trusting Your Gut

Built to last

An Eye on the Future

Growth

Working with me

UX Design explained

Great user experience

Naming your icons

Conversations

Want a UX-course in your inbox? Get it for free!

close