In my experience, creating guiding principles during the initial stage of the design process has been one of the most helpful foundational steps in every successful design project.
Guiding principles align vision, brand, and all teams. They should be created in collaboration with internal stakeholders; the resulting principles will be visible in every touch point of the finished product experience. The principles will also be used by the design team to manage and drive creative direction throughout the design process.
Having a company-wide set of guiding design principles in place saves money through the time saved on the traditional back and forth that takes place due to misinterpretation during exploration. It provides the design team with clarity by being able to justify their approach by questioning their direction throughout the creative process.
Internally questioning their approach with the principles in mind will present questions like the following:
- Am I speaking the user's language?
- Does the visual design communicate the idea at a glance?
- Does it increase or decrease cognitive load?
- Must be conversational (Speak the user's language and with them, not at them)
- Must not be sterile or robotic (be playful; have a personality for Pete's sake - see what I did there?!?)
- Must convey the service or product clearly without words and at a glance
- Must drive emotion to compel and excite the user
- Must not be complex. Less is more. (Ask what can be removed or simplified)
- Must be intuitive, a well-designed product does not need an explanation. (Don’t make users think, be obvious)
- Must provide unobtrusive feedback (subtle animations and the use of well thought out microinteractions can provide confirmation without being annoying)
- Must help the user (help through the use of visual hierarchy, and affordances to guide the user through an action. Every product is like a classic novel it has a impressive beginning with high expectations and an end that's gratifying; as for in between, it's our job to fill in the story and connect the dots.)
- Must use data to enhance the experience (How are users using it, where can the experience be improved? Why are they using it? -- "if I asked people what they wanted they would have asked for a faster horse" - Henry Ford)
H/T to #WOCinTech for the photo used in the header. Check out WOCinTech stock photos website to see what they're doing to provide a representation of all women and ethnic backgrounds in the tech ecosystem.