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Design principles

(to guide us)

5 point plan

  1. Humans (not users) come first
  2. Understand the problem before trying to solve it
  3. Be consistent and organised
  4. Accessibility and inclusive design benefit everyone
  5. Maintain focus on what matters

The benefits

Provide guide rails for the design process.


Be the tie-breaker between more than one solution.


Remove the subjective opinion that is inevitable during the design process.


Good design principles help make good design decisions.

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” 

— Charles Kettering

Design for humans (not users)

  • Humanise your user definitions
  • Establish Personas
  • Define Problem
  • Create Solution
  • Iterate through ‘human (not user)’ testing* and feedback
  • Release, monitor and refine

The ‘User’ and the ‘Problem’ should be kept separate and the ‘User’ identified before the problem is defined.

Why? Because reversing the order raises the danger that the the problem definition may incorrectly bias the user definitions – you know which humans will be using your website, service or app. 

Any service or brand has a target audience and should know that audience regardless of the problem. 

By establishing an understanding of the audience first there is actually a better chance of correctly understanding the problem.

* Note ‘User’ testing is not the same as data collected from a website that is live. As soon as someone understands they are a test subject the situation of testing is to some extent compromised it is not real and therefore shouldn’t be treated as such. However ‘User’ testing does produce insights that can then inform refinements to the solution that can then be pursued in a live environment for feedback from comparative testing methods (split testing). Live evaluation has the benefit that users are actually tackling real tasks, in a real context that accounts for a range or emotional and environmental circumstances that can’t easily be artificially reproduced.