Although design and technology have changed since Rams announced his ten design principles in the 1970s, they have withstood the test of time.
In one essential quote, Rams speaks on the true nature of good design:
“You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people.”
At Story+Structure, our own principles of design stem from this statement. As was explored in the previous post, we believe in following a human-centered design approach. In our increasingly digital world, it is important to remember that we are still humans designing for other humans.
Regardless of whether the end product is a physical object, a service, or a digital experience, the core of a successful design will rely on the positive experience of the human users.
Good design makes a product understandable
No one should be made to feel stupid because they are experiencing difficulty when trying to understand to how to use a product. Intention and ease of use should be self-evident when truly good design is at work.
Take this scene from the documentary Objectified, where David Kelley speaks about understanding a product:
In other words, a good design should be unobstrusive. Well-designed products and experiences should appear as if they haven't been designed at all. The end result should feel effortless. A classic example is the iPhone. The purity of form along with the seamless interactive experiences make it feel as if the iPhone has simply happened—it was always destined to be this way.
One might also describe a good design as 'artless.' At first glance this would seem to mean 'crude' or 'primitive', but 'artless' can also reference a natural state of grace and elegance, without engineering or staging.
As David Kelley points out during the film, a well-designed product should inform someone about the right way to use it. At the end of the day, regardless of all of the special features, its goal should try to improve (simplify!) the user's experience.