Omit the Unimportant – How Web Design can learn from Industrial Design

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Less but better”

“The purpose of design is to make products useful, not more complicated”

“Good design means as little design as possible.”

” If it doesn’t serve a purpose then get rid of it”

These are the words of Dieter Rams, a renowned German Industrial designer. Below you will see his celebrated 10 principles of design which guide sustainable design. We have looked at these principles and realised that although conceptualised in the realms of physical product design, they are completely relevant for web app design. Essentially the simpler you can make a product while not sacrificing function the better.  “Every manufactured item sends out signals to the mind or emotions… But the most important factor is whether the item can communicate its use.” A web application should also provide this very clear function in its design. In addition the design should aim to remove all distractions: “One of the most significant design principles is to omit the unimportant in order to emphasize the important.”

We believe in the art of simplicity; achieving the same outcome in less steps –  Check out this article we wrote on the subject a while back. We also touched on the concept in this Simple blog post. We are busy right now refining our user interface (UI) in an attempt to implement these principles and trust that the effort will produce an innovative, sustainable, useful and aesthetically pleasing experience for our clients!

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Dieter Rams 10 Principles of Design – use them and change UX for your clients:

  1. Is innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
  3. Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  5. Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
  6. Is honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail – Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
  9. Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  10. Is as little design as possible – Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
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