The need for a design principles update

Dieter Ram defined the famous ten design principles in 1970. As much as in the past, they are a valuable tool of today’s design process.

Since 1970 things has been changed. In this article I want to ideate how these principles could be different and why.

Let’s begin with the definition of design. Based on oxford dictionary:

A plan or drawing produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment, or other object before it is made.

Nice! Now we need to know what good design is.

Good design follows the principles from Dieter. But might not be enough for us to create something what people want and can sustain our business.

I would argue, that it is not enough to come up with an innovative product. Not anymore. I would even question whether we need more products. As I write this article, a million startup lunched their product to market.

What other principles can we follow in designing something valuable for today's people?

Let’s look what changes might influence these principles:

  1. The cost of producing physical and digital goods has been dramatically reduced.
  2. Mass markets are saturated. Price reduction is not a winning strategy.
  3. 65% of the world is on the internet. To connect with each other is easy, but trust and attentions is scarce.

We could build a longer list but let’s use these insights. What do we know now? The hardest part is not the building part, but the What to build? and To whom?. Industrialism is not working anymore, because we got more products what we can possible consume. Now we can move on and focus on human connections which are valuable today.

As a conclusion I would try to redefine what good design is

A good design is social. It connects the people who needs to be connected. It understands the dreams, fears and desires of that group and gives them what they need to make progress in their life.

Thank you for reading. Would be happy to hear your thoughts. You can find me on Twitter @LadislavSzolik.