The Principles of Service Design Thinking - Building Better Services
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Design principles are guidelines, biases and design considerations that designers apply with discretion. Professionals from many disciplines—e.g., behavioral science, sociology, physics and ergonomics—provided the foundation for design principles via their accumulated knowledge and experience.
Design principles are fundamental pieces of advice for you to make easy-to-use, pleasurable designs. You apply them when you select, create and organize elements and features in your work.
Design principles represent the accumulated wisdom of researchers and practitioners in design and related fields. When you apply them, you can predict how users will likely react to your design. “KISS” (“Keep It Simple Stupid”) is an example of a principle where you design for non-experts and therefore minimize any confusion your users may experience.
Franks Spillers’ design checklist is an example of customized design principles for mobile user experience (UX) design.
In user experience (UX) design, minimizing users’ cognitive loads and decision-making time is vital. The authors of Universal Principles of Design state that design principles should help designers find ways to improve usability, influence perception, increase appeal, teach users and make effective design decisions in projects.
You need a firm grasp of users’ problems and a good eye for how users will accept your solutions to apply design principles effectively. For instance, you don’t automatically use a 3:1 header-to-text weight ratio to abide by the principle of good hierarchy. That ratio is a standard rule. Instead, a guideline you might use to implement a good hierarchy is “text should be easy to read.” You should use discretion whenever you apply design principles to anticipate users’ needs – e.g., you judge how to guide the user’s eye using symmetry or asymmetry. Consequently, you adapt the principles to each case and build a solid experience as you address users’ needs over time.
“Design is not a monologue; it’s a conversation.”
—Whitney Hess, Empathy coach and UX design consultant
Designers use principles such as visibility, findability and learnability to address basic human behaviors. We use some design principles to guide actions. Perceived affordances such as buttons are an example. That way, we put users in control of seamless experiences.
Usability kingpin Jakob Nielsen identified ten “commandments”:
Keep users informed of system status with constant feedback.
Set information in a logical, natural order.
Ensure users can easily undo/redo actions.
Maintain consistent standards so users know what to do next without learning new toolsets.
Prevent errors if possible; wherever you can’t do this, warn users before they commit to actions.
Don’t make users remember information – keep options, etc., visible.
Make systems flexible so novices and experts can choose to do more or less on them.
Design with aesthetics and minimalism in mind – don’t clutter with unnecessary items.
Provide plain-language error messages to pinpoint problems and potential solutions.
Offer easy-to-search troubleshooting resources, if needed.
Empathy expert Whitney Hess adds:
1. Don’t interrupt or give users obstacles – make apparent pathways that offer an easy ride.
2. Offer few options – don’t hinder users with nice-to-haves; give them needed alternatives instead.
3. Reduce distractions – let users perform tasks consecutively, not simultaneously.
4. Group related objects together.
5. Have an easy-to-scan visual hierarchy that reflects users’ needs, with commonly used items handily available.
6. Make things easy to find.
7. Show users where they’ve come from and where they’re headed with signposts/cues.
8. Provide context – show how everything interconnects.
9. Avoid jargon.
10. Make designs efficient and streamlined.
11. Use defaults wisely – when you offer predetermined, well-considered options, you help minimize users’ decisions and increase efficiency.
12. Don’t delay users – ensure quick interface responses.
13. Focus on emotion – the pleasure of use is as vital as ease of use; arouse users’ passion for increasing engagement.
14. Use “less is more” – make everything count in the design. If functional and aesthetic elements don’t add to the user experience, forget them.
15. Be consistent with navigational mechanisms, organizational structure, etc., to make a stable, reliable and predictable design.
16. Create an excellent first impression.
17. Be trustworthy and credible – identify yourself through your design to assure users and eliminate the uncertainty.
Several Interaction Design Foundation courses closely examine design principles, including Visual Design: The Ultimate Guide.
Whitney Hess examines Design Principles in her article Guiding Principles for UX Designers.
Find out more about the importance of Design Principles in mobile experiences in the article Mobile UX Design: Key Principles.
Here’s the entire UX literature on design principles by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:
Take a deep dive into Design Principles with our course User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide .
If you’ve heard the term user experience design and been overwhelmed by all the jargon, then you’re not alone. In fact, most practicing UX designers struggle to explain what they do!
“[User experience] is used by people to say, ‘I’m a user experience designer, I design websites,’ or ‘I design apps.’ […] and they think the experience is that simple device, the website, or the app, or who knows what. No! It’s everything — it’s the way you experience the world, it’s the way you experience your life, it’s the way you experience the service. Or, yeah, an app or a computer system. But it’s a system that’s everything.”
— Don Norman, pioneer and inventor of the term “user experience,” in an interview with NNGroup
As indicated by Don Norman, User Experience is an umbrella term that covers several areas. When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to understand what those areas are so that you know how best to apply the tools available to you.
In this course, you will gain an introduction to the breadth of UX design and understand why it matters. You’ll also learn the roles and responsibilities of a UX designer, how to confidently talk about UX and practical methods that you can apply to your work immediately.
You will learn to identify the overlaps and differences between different fields and adapt your existing skills to UX design. Once you understand the lay of the land, you’ll be able to chart your journey into a career in UX design. You’ll hear from practicing UX designers from within the IxDF community — people who come from diverse backgrounds, have taught themselves design, learned on the job, and are enjoying successful careers.
If you are new to the Interaction Design Foundation, this course is a great place to start because it brings together materials from many of our other courses. This provides you with both an excellent introduction to user experience and a preview of the courses we have to offer to help you develop your future career. After each lesson, we will introduce you to the courses you can take if a specific topic has caught your attention. That way, you’ll find it easy to continue your learning journey.
In the first lesson, you’ll learn what user experience design is and what a UX designer does. You’ll also learn about the importance of portfolios and what hiring managers look for in them.
In the second lesson, you’ll learn how to think like a UX designer. This lesson also introduces you to the very first exercise for you to dip your toes into the cool waters of user experience.
In the third and the fourth lessons, you’ll learn about the most common UX design tools and methods. You’ll also practice each of the methods through tailor-made exercises that walk you through the different stages of the design process.
In the final lesson, you’ll step outside the classroom and into the real world. You’ll understand the role of a UX designer within an organization and what it takes to overcome common challenges at the workplace. You’ll also learn how to leverage your existing skills to successfully transition to and thrive in a new career in UX.
You’ll be taught by some of the world’s leading experts. The experts we’ve handpicked for you are:
Alan Dix, Director of the Computational Foundry at Swansea University, author of Statistics for HCI: Making Sense of Quantitative Data
Ann Blandford, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at University College London
Frank Spillers, Service Designer, Founder and CEO of Experience Dynamics
Laura Klein, Product Management Expert, Principal at Users Know, Author of Build Better Products and UX for Lean Startups
Michal Malewicz, Designer and Creative Director / CEO of Hype4 Mobile
Mike Rohde, Experience and Interface Designer, Author of The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking
Szymon Adamiak, Software Engineer and Co-founder of Hype4 Mobile
William Hudson, User Experience Strategist and Founder of Syntagm
Throughout the course, we’ll supply you with lots of templates and step-by-step guides so you can start applying what you learn in your everyday practice.
You’ll find a series of exercises that will help you get hands-on experience with the methods you learn. Whether you’re a newcomer to design considering a career switch, an experienced practitioner looking to brush up on the basics, or work closely with designers and are curious to know what your colleagues are up to, you will benefit from the learning materials and practical exercises in this course.
You can also learn with your fellow course-takers and use the discussion forums to get feedback and inspire other people who are learning alongside you. You and your fellow course-takers have a huge knowledge and experience base between you, so we think you should take advantage of it whenever possible.
You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you’ve completed the course. You can highlight it on your resume, LinkedIn profile or website.