Universal principles of design?

 |  By: Steve Johnson

Is there one set of design principles that can be applied in every instance?

What a question! You’re looking for one single set of principles that works across all media, centuries, audiences and projects? And you’re hoping to find it in a blog? Good luck...

But wait! There’s a very useful little website at www.designprinciplesftw.com


It lists no less than 48 complete sets of design principles. The smallest list has three. The largest, which is Apple’s iOS User Experience Guidelines, has 17.

So which, you ask, is the true universal list? Not sure. By the time you read them all, you’ll probably decide that there is no such thing as one utopian code of perfection. It’s like asking What’s the meaning of life? It rather depends on who’s doing the asking and what they plan to do with the answer.

Certainly one of my favourite lists here is Dieter Rams’ famous list of Ten Principles For Good Design.  Product design in the 1960s would have been very different without Rams’ presence. He spearheaded a global step change in design clarity, usability and simplicity, creating the ground-breaking designs of Braun products and influencing the design mindset at Apple. What an achievement.

His principles even hold good in running an agency. Let me clarify. I'm not talking about merely guiding the designs that the agency produces but influencing the actual management of the agency itself.  How? See what the MD of Yorkshire agency HMA Digital Marketing has to say on it.