Our five design principles are signposts for our development. They ensure that the users remain in focus. This article is about each of these principles and why they were chosen.
The Design Principles
The design principles represent quality characteristics for our software. The characteristics are not only intended for the UI, but can also be consulted for non-visible developments, such as the description of interfaces. The design principles serve as guidelines to help us make better decisions, increase the quality of our projects, and make daily work easier. They are not binding standards.
Our design is understandable (easy to grasp) and yet not intrusive. We focus on the important elements. We enable users to complete their relevant tasks quickly.
Our design focuses on the added value we create together with our customers. We design for everyday use through user-centered design.
To find a common solution, we work in interdisciplinary teams and closely with our customers, users and other stakeholders. In doing so, we incorporate different experiences and competencies into our work.
Our applications motivate and convince with a very good user experience. Our users enjoy working with our applications.
Our users feel safe when using our applications. We earn our users’ trust through stability, security, and compliance.
So what exactly do we mean by that?
- A help button is not integrated because users do not need it
- We make sure that we don’t spend unnecessary energy on fancy animations when opening a dropdown if the dropdown is only a means to an end and the screen should not distract from it with unnecessary information
- The user needs an overview of devices that are in different rooms. However, the customer thinks in terms of division of rooms and not in terms of device locations. Accordingly, the application refers to the rooms where the devices are located and not to the devices themselves.
- For customers, where the price of the offer is crucial, we do not focus on the interface used by one (admin) person, but on the part of the application that is most often in use
- We focus on the design of the MVP first, before designing the next scope in the form of an MMP
- The design of the application is not done behind closed doors with a presentation of only the finished concepts afterwards. Even preliminary results and small components are presented with all available stakeholders every 14 days and optimized together.
- To achieve creative ideas for the integration of new requirements, a design studio is held with the PO, developers, end users and designers
- The user can easily upload documents by Drag and Drop, which saves a lot of clicks and on top of that is fun to use
- The dashboard can be easily customized according to personal preferences
- The list containing personal data is viewed only by people who have the relevant authorization
- The color scheme of the UI is accessible, because people with red-green weakness have to work with this UI
How did the new design principles come about?
I came across our design principles from akquinet tech@spree a good year ago during a project for our website. I have to admit that I didn’t know them before. So I started an internal survey: “Who knows the Design Principles? Do they help you or do you consider them in your work?” The results clearly showed: the Design Principles were not put to practice. They existed, but were outdated, partly unknown and difficult to grasp due to cumbersome formulations. So I decided with interested colleagues: we should change that!
How did we proceed?
The design principles as a result are very short: only five terms in German and English and short explanations for each. But the process leading up to these principles was intense. In some cases we discussed every word. First, we looked at the old principles with the team, did a little research, and then asked ourselves: do we want to revise the existing ones or start from scratch? Because we wanted to proceed in a free and unencumbered way, the green field was the only option. We created remote boards with proposals, discussed and clustered them. Through surveys and discussions with colleagues outside the OKR circle, we gathered feedback and focused the principles more and more until finally there were only five terms left. In the first draft, we had developed them only in English, but then translated them into German, also for use in external communication and vis-à-vis our customers.
Emergence of individual Principles
- Clarity (Clarity)
In the first principle of “Clarity” we have considered whether and how the frequently used principle of “Simplicity” should be included here. In many forums, it was often said that “simplicity” was too vague and that the word was also included in the principle of “clarity”. In the mind, the word “clarity” creates a clearer image than “simplicity”. That’s why in the description text we opted for an additional explanation of the term (in parentheses) to explain the word in an “understandable” way.
A helpful site was this one, for example.
The term collaboration was found pretty quickly, as this was something we all felt strongly about. Here the challenge often lies in the implementation, because it is not easy to always win customers, users and other stakeholders for the project and to work together with them.
- Enthusiasm (Enthusiasm)
During the formulation, we considered whether we really wanted to write that our products convince through “very good user experience”. But we decided to do so, because that is our goal: we want to achieve more than just good UX, of course.
This point is not only aimed at the “perceived” trust of the user through good UX. It also includes compliance with relevant guidelines, be it those on accessibility, ISO standards or standards for medical devices. Furthermore, this also includes the technological security of the product (e.g. load framework), as far as we can influence it.
Last but not least, this also means that when we develop several similar products as a family, we always provide the users with a UX that is as identical as possible, so that they can develop trust in the products more easily: through easy-to-understand and consistent usability throughout.
- Benefit (Value)
Benefit is obvious! If it weren’t there, everything would be pointless.
These design principles are not only used to guide our day-to-day work. We also use the principles to review and evaluate our completed projects. In addition, we engage in questioning the principles themselves. If some of the principles are not very well taken into account in projects or are difficult to implement, we review and revise them if necessary. After all, none of the principles are “set in stone,” but only endure if they actually helps us and thus our customers and users.