Andrew Travers

Andrew Travers is a designer and researcher. He’s the author of Interviewing for research.

Principles not platitudes

Posted on 16 Dec 2016

Jeremy Keith has posted a really good piece on what makes a design principle good, following on from a piece I wrote here about designing design principles.

I say really good because Jeremy's post asks just the right hard questions and pinpoint the nagging worry we've had as we start to identify our own design principles:

“could you imagine the exact opposite of the design principle being perfectly valid in a different organisation or on a different project? If not, then the principle may be too weak to be effective.”

It's so easy for principles to become platitudes, to become decorative rather than directing our work. We're wary of that and trying to guard against it by working on them in the open. In alpha, sharing them early with colleagues across different bits of the Co-op and inviting their critique; and then in beta, when we start to publish our principles more publicly. These early posts on process are a part of that.

Good principles have to word hard. Scrutiny always helps. Which in turn reminds me of one of GDS's very best design principles:

10. Make things open: it makes things better