If you’re reading this article, then you’re most likely to be interested in the best practices of software product design. But we have to break the news right away — every company and every product team follows its own best practices, so there are no rules that are universal for everyone. A good thing is that you can easily choose and mix principles that are most appealing to you and your team.
We’re going to raise the curtain of how we run software product design things at LITSLINK and provide an overview of main product design principles at other companies such as Intercom and inVision. Read on to find more.
- What are Product Design Principles?
- Top Product Design Principles at LITSLINK
- Principles at Intercom for Designers
- InVision Design Principles
- Wrapping up
What are Product Design Principles?
Before providing any principles of a great product design, we need to define what actually they mean. So, let’s define what a principle and product design represent separately.
The word “principle” means “a basic idea or rule that explains or controls how something happens or works”.
Product design is a process of creating a product that aims at solving the user’s problems, needs and providing them with an effective solution.
So taking these two things into account, we may assume that product design principles are a set of rules that help teams create applications in the most efficient way possible.
Top Software Product Design Principles at LITSLINK
Evgeniia Liuts, a lead UX/UI designer and a Nielsen Norman Group certified professional, provided us with her team’s product design principles that have been honed and tested for years at LITSLINK.
“We highly value the very synergy between functional, experience, and aesthetic designs, which are responsible for what the product is created for, how the end-user is going to interact with it, and how it looks, respectively”.
LITSLINK professionals realize the great importance of product design. That’s why we form teams of product designers that are capable of delivering end-to-end projects, exercise flexibility in tailored-made approaches to meet the client’s and end-user’s requirements and needs. To achieve this, we single out and follow eight top principles of a good product design:
1. Don’t Create Design, Solve the Existing Problems
Visual design is a significant part of any app, but it’s not always of prime importance. It might sound highly improbable and ridiculous but let’s put it in a different perspective. Just imagine an Uber-like app that can’t perform its main function — help riders reach their destination points. No one would pay attention to the awesome design of the app.
A cumbersome, counterintuitive, and time consuming application can cause irritation, frustration, and disappointment, no matter how amazing it looks. Therefore, you should always think about how you can solve problems for the user in the first place.
2. You are Not Your User
We’re all sometimes inclined to forget this principle, no matter what we do. We might think that this or that feature will be quite useful in an app, but the end-user might find it out of place. And what we’ve planned might be totally pointless and impractical for them.
For this reason, we must not rely on our understanding and vision of a product. We should conduct thorough research of user behavior and tailor the product accordingly.
“Observe first, then create” — this is our motto.
2. Create Simplicity and Intuitiveness
Simplicity and intuitiveness must go hand in hand when creating product design. The user should resolve his or her pain points or problems in a simple and intuitive manner without spending much time on figuring out how the product works and what steps are needed to be undertaken to resolve a problem. Hence, we must create practical solutions for users.
3. Follow UX Fundamentals
Designers should always follow the best UX practices and avoid using non-standard and intricate ones. We believe that it’s much efficient to follow established fundamental practices that have been tested multiple times and are used every day. Thus, people get used to a familiar pattern and perception.
4. Create Positive Emotions
To create a product that is functional and appealing is a number one priority of the product designer. The other thing which is no less important is the emotional side of it. A software product should also evoke emotions and our task is to make sure these emotions are positive.
5. Great Products Need Great Collaboration
Behind every successful product stands an outstanding team, where each person thinks about all the nitty-gritty details that lead to the desired outcome. Design creation plays a vital role in the whole process of development as it heavily impacts the whole process of development. As a result, UX/UI designers, project managers, software engineers, business analysts collaborate with one another at every step of software development.
What is more, each person that takes part in the product development has the app on his or her mobile phone in case someone else has any questions about the application.
That’s why collaboration is key in creating products that make a real difference.
6 Use Flexible Approach
Product designers at LITSLINK don’t use conventional approaches and patterns in creating products because every product is unique and therefore it requires to meet the individual needs of a client, end-users.Product designers also take into account specifications of each and every product.
We apply flexible approaches to create products.
7. Deliverables Matters
We do care what we ship. The final result matters a lot because we feel great pride in what we do. We work with an all-consuming passion, full involvement, and absolute commitment.
Here are the basic principles of product design we apply and follow at LITSLINK. And now we can move on to two companies that also promote their product design principles.
Principles at Intercom for Designers
Intercom is a US software company that provides a platform for communication between businesses and their users through various channels — email, chat, website, and/or app. They also use eight main principles to create a really awesome product design — mixing the main five related directly to the product design itself and the other three belonging to engineering.
1. Think Big, Start Small
Think big, start small principle is your how to eat an elephant saying in product design. If you have an idea for an intricate product, you should start with a small part of it. A minimum viable product is a perfect example of this principle in software development.
2. Ship to Learn
Once you’ve shipped a product it’s never finished. If it proves to be successful, it’ll be constantly evolving and becoming better and better.
Be also ready to fix it if there are any bugs or errors because this is inevitable.
3. Principle Three
You should always ask yourself “Why?” Why do you do it? Why do we need this feature? Why can’t we do this? If people didn’t ask such questions, they wouldn’t be able to create products that made a difference.
4. Connected, Modular System
A system consists of interconnected and interdependent elements that are properly and efficiently ordered to achieve a certain result. It consists of three main parts, which are elements, interconnections, and purpose.
5. Opinionated by Default, Flexible Under the Hood
Product designers should create simple and opinionated designs by default, but at the same time it needs to be flexible and progressive.
6. Follow the Fundamentals
You need to follow the fundamentals — the most important things of the product. What color is the app is secondary, while the mechanics behind the app are of primary importance.
7. Make it Feel Personal
Create a product with “human face,” because people want to communicate with real people and not with robots.
8. What You Ship is What Matters
You might have created an intricate design earlier but what matters the most is what your user will get in the end.
inVision Design Principles
inVision is a digital platform that allows creating unique designs that provide users with the most amazing customer experience. Here are the seven main product design principles of the company:
1. Guess Less
This principle resonates with LITSLINK’s and Intercom’s principles. You shouldn’t design and build your product asap as you’re sure to fail. Before getting down to design, you should get to know your users first — what they want and how you can address their pain points. Create products based on what you find and not on what you guess.
At this stage, you can conduct research and interview, carry out surveys, etc., to have an educated guess of what your users really need.
2. Story First
Many people take part in creating a product — designers, marketers, engineers, project managers, and others. A story brings them all together and provides a vision of why we are creating this product for the user and how it’ll fit his or her life.
You can use videos, storyboards, etc., to create a story to showcase teams how the product will fit the live of the end-user.
3. Pencils Before Pixels
Despine being the main tool for designers, the computer does not allow concentrating entirely on the problem they are trying to deal with. So casually sketch a solution first to see the bigger picture and then move on to your computer and work on its details.
4. Fast Feedback
Product designers have to test things quickly, which means prototyping needs to be done in a quick way to obtain direct and immediate feedback from potential users. By creating a prototype, designers can validate a lot of questions and pivot if needed.
5. Show and Tell
Almost all product designers value their craft and they do want to hone it. That’s why it’s important to have feedback from your colleagues, team, uplines, and management so that you know where and how to grow.
6. Lateral Design
Similar to the “great products need great collaboration” principle promoted by LITSLINK, collaboration is paramount at inVision Designers, engineers, project managers should work together on a product and learn from each other.
7. Break the Black Box
To create design in small companies is much easier than in big ones. As the space grows, so does the misunderstanding of what anyone is doing. That’s why product designers have to communicate with other people and build rapport because all of them contribute to product creation.
To create designs in a most efficient way is to follow the best product design principles. But the catch is, each company has its own top principles of product design. Nevertheless, they intervene with one another and you can easily pick up the ones that resonate with you.