Web design is simpler than you might imagine

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Web design is the most prolific example of industrial design available today. So why do so many web design companies still design like they’re creating brochures?

The very best modern-day design for digital services is based on the 10 rules of industrial design, created by Dieter Rams over 30 years ago they have stood the test of time.

Famously the inspiration for all Apple product design, Dieter Rams created the core 10 principles of industrial design in the 1970s and was the forerunner of “Function over Form”, a principle we have stuck to since we founded in the mid 1990s.

Good design is vital to make a product useful, and avoid it becoming useless (think some Microsoft products over the years) and is based on:

  • Less is more. Less, but better, as the focus is on the essential elements and not burdening the design with non-essentials.
  • Innovative. It is always possible to make something better, the spread of technology will always offer new and exciting ways to deliver digital services.
  • Bring it’s own value. Just performing a function is not enough, it must enhance that function and be able to standalone
  • Looks nice. Digital services that look pleasing on the eye generate greater engagement.
  • Non-detracting. Design should not get in the way of fulfilling its purpose, it should not be decorative unless the decoration helps the user journey.
  • Eschews trend and fashion. Good design will stand the test of time, regardless of how contemporary it initially seems.
  • Transparent. Great design should not hide the service’s weaknesses nor gloss-up the cool stuff. It’s integral to the needs of the service.
  • Makes the service easy to use. Confusing design, or forcing people to learn new stuff to make it work is bad.
  • Detailed. Really great design (look at Apple) is down to the detail, the attention and care to the small stuff – the stuff that really frustrates users.
  • Re-useable. Proprietary design is expensive in the long term, it should be simple to re-purpose and low cost to maintain.

When Dieter Rams created the original framework he wasn’t thinking about web site, or even digital services. But the core principle are the same for designing a car, a fridge or a digital service.