Design principles at After the flood

1. Make new data

Make new datasets as part of new propositions. Or relaunch a product with new data added. User needs will not just be met by a new interface. To meet users needs, a product will need to do things and new data will enable that. Specify what that data needs to do and how it could be sourced or made.

2. Design with real content

When prototyping, use real content if not live content. Do not use Lorem Ipsum. Write, copy or steal the real content if you have to. False content hinders the definition of an idea. False content looks facetious to clients. Dummy copy is for dummies.

3. Information is social

Create ways of sharing the information, not just looking at it. Understand how different levels of the organization read and share data. Don’t just show insights, show who came up with them. Make analysts famous in their organisations. Make modes of displaying data that are used in the client business.

4. Design for novices and experts

Design for people with lots of time and knowledge and for people with little time and knowledge. We are all novices and experts depending on what we are looking at. Assume most people will not spend too much time with the product unless your research tells you different. Save people time and they will love you.

5. Make the invisible visible

Information design surfaces the truth we all know to be there. Find what is useful or interesting but hidden and show it. The revelation of previously invisible qualities is magical and should look magical. Use metaphors that are common and give people knowable starting points before taking them on a journey.

6.  Colour is structural

Use colour sparingly to highlight the hierarchy in information displays. Preserve the sanctity of the primary accent colour and only assign it to the most important information. Adapt corporate ID guidelines that do not allow for basic coloring of  information hierarchy.

7. Parti hard

Build products around a unified structural concept. ‘Parti’ is an architectural term from the French ‘partir’ – to leave – that refers to the abiding sense of a building. Parti design is the essence of the experience that seeps into every layer of strategy, structure and visual experience. You might call it brand – that is OK too.

8. It’s the service, stupid

Information designers should think about the context of use rather than just the informational modules. The sat nav designer should consider the act of driving and not just cartography.

9.  Designers channel forces

By understanding all the forces around a problem, you can design the best solution. Designers’ main skill is understanding. Ask questions to frame the problem so well that the answer presents itself.

10. Designers are special generalists

Strategy, structure, behaviour and visual layers are so connected in today’s world that a designer needs to be able to function in all disciplines. Valuable tangential ideas are lost when designers cannot think across these key design disciplines. Specialists struggle to be better than the sum of their parts.

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