User first, always.
Also known as UCD (User centred design) it is a principle that affects nearly all digital; that being where we put the users needs first. To effectively communicate to and design for each user type, we segment them into common characteristics, that allow us to devise scenarios that empathise with them, allowing to better design digital experiences that will engage through an application.
Form follows function.
One of the oldest rules in design still holds true in digital, if not even stronger than previously. With so many options at our fingertips, it is critical that we design experiences keeps the user happy. To do this we must focus on the functional patterns, trim away fat, keep the journey as slender as possible while maximising hierarchy of the various objective or tool that promotes user satisfaction, essentially making something functional as possible, then applying the discretionary form that styles it from another.
Fresh eyes make for great improvements.
Fresh eyes is a common phrase in any industry with a heavy cognitive and imaginary workload, simply meaning come back and look at it with a fresh mind, and a different train of thought, you should be able to uncover new insight draw new connections and most importantly vary the conclusion for the better. In design and particularly product design, it is a powerful tool to help see, and critique your own or existing work, to find issues that aren't noticeable early. Commonly referred to as Fresh Eye Audit, it is best set up with goals and parameters to ensure focus is maintained, and a good rubicon for judging outcomes.
Design for device (not mobile first).
Not opposed to responsive and mobile first, but highly regard device first principles of adaptive design, where the design adapts to suit the users situational needs and capabilities. , If one is truly adhering to userfirst principles they must regard a user on a phone as needing a vary different set of tools to that of a user on a desktop. A key tenant of this is being able to serve content that is suited to a user on a phone as opposed to a mobile, such as the need to access a map of locations as that user is more likely to be on the road. Either Way cost must be considered and development options for breaking away from traditional front end frameworks that are not so supportive of adaptive customisations.
Accessibility is a matter of human rights.
Accessibility' - It is our duty as designers to push to ensure that we make digital experiences accessible to all people to reach, understand and use, irrespective of age, disability, ethnicity, geographical location or other factors. Nothing more needs to said. Sometimes their might be branding or business directives that push a brief whereby this is overruled, however it is my strongest opinion we must push back and include everyone the right to access the benefits of digital communication.
People don't read.
One of the most important fact about digital users is that they don't read, they scan. Discussed in Steve Krug well-received first book, Don't Make Me Think, but known to many a designer since well, forever. Actually most visitors scroll through about only 50-60% of an article page without reading, and are in fact more likely to share than the to read. Our job is to make things very scannable, so at speed users are safe and can comfortably link the next step in their journey.
The Art of Criticsm.
Giving and getting feedback, is simply the ability to convey or receive constructive criticism. Being able to communicate about work is the truly great super secret to creating better design. Design is not art, it is a tool, not so to be enjoyed as much as processed to produce an outcome. The ability of the design piece to get the desired outcome doesn't come down to a single train of thought or feeling, but the musings and sharings of multiple thoughts and normally is the outcome of the most popular. Refining based on each round of feedback drives the best design outcomes.
Design is better from a team.
Good design is the weighted input of multiple data sources, and in many instances the more varied those inputs are, the better the design will be. A team of designers will think like a team of designers, but when there is a business lead, an engineering lead and various others, the design will play to the inputs of those particular attributes and therefore tend to have wider net for being accepted across various criteria. .
Nothing is perfect.
No design is ever finished, is something you will hear me say. Forever evolving, maybe stagnant in time, but simply waiting for the next set of fresh eyes to pick up it up and take it on a new direction. This can be said for anything that sits in the digital landscape within a live domain. Simply look at the waybackmachine.org to see how far we have come, and then imagine where we are going. Getting better always, but never perfect, as perfect is the end state, and that is simply a place we will always be trying to reach.