design principles.

May 1, 2008

I was reading the Google blog the other day, and came across the post entitled “What makes a design ‘Googley’“. The similarity between the Googley Design Principles, and Dieter Ram’s top ten points really struck me. To be honest, I wouldn’t have recognized this parallel if I hadn’t just finished researching Rams for a project and I wouldn’t expect most people outside the design world to recognize it either. But I did and it just doesn’t sit right with me.

In my opinion, Google’s design principles don’t make a “Googley” design; they make a good design that’s usable. I’m sure one could make the argument that Apple follows these same principles, but I doubt Apple would call themselves “Googley”. To me, labeling these principles with a brand is taking credit for something that’s universal. It’s like asking for a gold star for doing something you should automatically do – like looking presentable when you go out in public. As technology become more complicated, companies have to be aware of design principles that will keep their products user-friendly. And it’s not just a Google thing; it’s an every business thing.

On another note, of his own list, Rams said “these points cannot be set in stone because just as technology and culture are constantly developing, so are ideas about good design.” And he’d been designing products for nearly 30 years. It’s interesting that as much as technology and culture has changed since the 1950’s, good design apparently hasn’t. But that’s whole other topic.

Google’s Principles:

1. Focus on people—their lives, their work, their dreams.
2. Every millisecond counts.
3. Simplicity is powerful.
4. Engage beginners and attract experts.
5. Dare to innovate.
6. Design for the world.
7. Plan for today’s and tomorrow’s business.
8. Delight the eye without distracting the mind.
9. Be worthy of people’s trust.
10. Add a human touch.

Dieter Ram’s Principles:

1. Good design is innovative.
2. Good design makes a product useful.
3. Good design is aesthetic.
4. Good design makes a product understandable.
5. Good design is honest.
6. Good design is unobtrusive.
7. Good design is long-lasting.
8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
9. Good design is environmentally friendly.
10. Good design is as little design as possible.


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