Principles of Good Design: Part 2

Eoghan Hickey

UX Designer

Part 2 of a two-part series
I applied five of Dieter Rams’ principles of design to the iPhone 6 in Part 1 of this series and have five more to go! Let’s see how Apple fares against the second batch and be sure to share your comments below.


6. Good Design Is Honest

It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept. Evidently there are two different chips being shipped with the iPhone 6s. One appears to be a bit of a dud, offering less battery life and reduced performance.

7. Good Design Is Long-Lasting

It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years, even in today’s throwaway society. Speaking of battery life, this Smart Battery Case is a ridiculous gouge of the consumer. It’s an admission of 2 things.

Firstly the battery life isn’t great. They’re obsessed with shaving off millimetres to the device—the thinnest iPhone ever you say (again!). Secondly, you need to purchase a case. This will break without it because you know, good design means that products are less durable as time goes on. 15 years ago we all had indestructible brick phones that ran for days. How is this progress!

iPhone in case and screenshot

8. Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail

Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer. It seems thoroughness doesn’t extend to testing the operating system on older, “supported” devices. It’s very hard to overlook the fact that Apple routinely bricks its own products with iOS upgrades that provide a crappy User Experience. Just run a quick Google search to see what I mean! How any company can sell a 16GB phone with an operating system that demanded up to 5.7GB of free space to install an update is beyond me.

However, when you produce a product people love, anyone who questions this is open to be mocked or labeled an idiot. Let’s be honest, most people don’t speak in Gigabytes. It’s a marketing thing used to give a Goldilocks effect.

Storage limits should be listed in things people understand. Take the Total Space, subtract the size of the Operating System and the average storage taken up by apps. Then provide the number of photos and videos users can be expected to take at the default camera setting. Ok, not a great example, but there has to be a better way to inform users of their options instead of making them choose the middle pig.

9. Good Design Is Environmentally Friendly

Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product. The drive to release an iPhone every year essentially nullifies the appeal of last year’s model.

Nobody wants an iPhone 5. Environmental concerns were relatively low on the Apple list. They are listed at the very bottom of the spec list, after all of the cool sexy stuff as a post–script. In their defence they have addressed their wicked ways over the last number of years.

10. Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible

Less but better, because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity. When it comes as little design as possible, Apple are pushing less than required. There’s more on this in this excellent long form read by Don Norman and Bruce Tognazzini which also draws comparisons to Dieter Rams’ 10 Design Principles.

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