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How Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles of Design Relate to the Web

You may not be familiar with the name Deiter Rams, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen or potentially used one of his award-winning products. Rams is a German industrial designer whose “less, but better” motto has secured him a spot as one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. And although his designs and innovative thinking are his bread and butter, it’s his “10 Principles of Good Design” that reach broader audiences and continue to encourage good design.

Here’s how his 10 principles can apply to Web design.

1. Good design is innovative.

One of the best things about the digital world is that it’s so new. Because of its adolescence, new ideas and innovations are being thrown around every day. It’s not always easy to keep up with the latest and greatest, but new ideas help us achieve our goals. Technology drives innovation. Our job as designers is to push the envelope via design that not only stands out, but works hard too.

2. Good design makes a product useful.

Perhaps the most important rule to follow regarding your website is simply this: It must be useful. No exceptions. The user must be able to navigate through your website without hiccups, easily finding the information they’re searching for. You can have the coolest website on the block, but if your audience can’t find the information they came for, they’ll find it somewhere else. The combination of user-driven content and simple design practices is the foundation of a useful website.

3. Good design is aesthetic.

Your website’s overall look and feel plays a huge role in its effectiveness. Content, imagery, colors, typography and layout are the ingredients used to create a beautiful site. The online experience is important to prospects looking for a senior living community. It’s often the first impression they have of your community and should reflect your community’s brand throughout.

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4. Good design makes a product understandable.

My first question during the initial discovery phase is always, “What are your goals?” Are you trying to increase leads? Promoting an upcoming event? Do you need a bump in AL admissions? These are the questions you need to ask to determine what you want from your website. Once the goals are clear and everyone is on the same page, we can use design to get where we want to go.

5. Good design is unobtrusive.

Simply put, a website is a tool used to find information. It should never deter the user from finding what they need. Keep the graphic details minimal and focus on delivering the content clearly and simply.

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6. Good design is honest.

“Just the facts, ma’am.” Stay away from promises you can’t keep. A good example we run across is the response time of contact form submissions. A lot of times a user fills out the form and gets a “thank you” response that says something along the lines of, “A representative will be in touch shortly.” That’s great, but realistically, how long is “shortly”? Be as specific as possible and adhere to the time frame you promise. If your response time is too long, you risk losing the user’s trust.

7. Good design is long-lasting.

The digital world is changing every day and, as I said before, it’s hard to stay current with all the latest trends. However, a lot of core elements being used today are the same elements that existed in the beginning. Contact forms, for example, have been around since the dawn of the Internet, and are still used as the main way to gather information. Sure, you might be able to dress them up a bit by adding new features, but they still function the way they always have.

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8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail.

Small details can make the difference between a good site and a great site. Besides keeping all graphic elements consistent and user-friendly, quality control is a huge part of development that sometimes gets overlooked during the excitement of the launch. Make sure you’re taking the time needed to thoroughly look over your site both before and after launch.

9. Good design is environmentally friendly.

Every time we click a button, watch a video or request information, it consumes energy. The bigger the task, the more energy consumed. You can actually decrease your website’s energy use by simplifying the design. Optimizing images, reducing the number of widgets and speeding up load times can help reduce your website’s energy footprint. Simplifying your website is not only good for the environment, but it can also improve the overall user experience.

10. Good design is as little design as possible.

Less is better. The reason this kind of thinking works so well is because it allows the user to focus on the task at hand. Bells and whistles are great and have their place, but we must be careful not to overwhelm our audience. Distractions or additions without value will only hurt your product.

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