Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles & UX Design

Makes a product useful

Super User studio recently enjoyed a trip to the Design Museum to see Dieter Rams’ very interesting ‘Less is More’ exhibition:

For those of you unfamiliar with Dieter’s work, he’s the inspirational, German industrial designer who was Braun’s design visionary for nearly 30 years. Born in 1932, he became one of the most influential designers of the late 20th century and his work is widely thought to have inspired Jonathan Ive, the designer behind many an Apple Inc product.

In 2007, Rams was awarded the Lucky Strike Designer Award, the prestigious international design award, in recognition of his lifetime achievements and contribution to design. And it is Rams’ contribution or relevance to digital product design today that we find so interesting. Realising his impact on the world of design, in the 1980s Rams came up with a list of ‘Ten Principles of Good Design’. These principles reflect the functional pragmatism and minimalist aesthetic for which he has become well known, but they also have a strong connection to best digital product design practices today. Much like the focus of user experience design, these principles declare the importance of a user-centred and functional approach to design.

Dieter Rams’ ‘Ten Principles of Good Design’

  • Good design is innovative.
  • Good design makes a product useful.
  • Good design is aesthetic.
  • Good design makes a product understandable.
  • Good design is unobtrusive.
  • Good design is honest.
  • Good design is long-lasting.
  • Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
  • Good design is environmentally friendly.
  • Good design is as little design as possible.

We were struck by the affinity between these principles and the best practice user experience and user-centred design techniques we use at Super User Studio. It seems obvious, but it made us think about the rich insight we can gain from pre-existing design philosophies, regardless of the field of design. Digital product design is relatively new, but industrial design has been refined over the past century and there is much we can learn from its practices. The industrial designer’s focus on the relationship between function, form and the product’s user will become ever more relevant as digital products play an increasingly more pervasive role in our lives. Ultimately, taking inspiration from other fields of design, whether it’s industrial, architectural, print or exhibition for example, will help us to refine our approach to digital product design and better equip us for rapidly evolving technologies.

If you’d like to find out more about the exhibition or Dieter Rams’ work, then try these links: