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In this article, Dieter Rams Ten Principles for Good Design, we will take a look at a well-known business designer and study his winning standards of approach to help us incorporate these critical elements into our designs.

This article will dive more into the "less is more"approach. While we have known Nielsen and Molich’s 10 heuristics or rules of thumb and the Eight Golden Rules by Ben Shneiderman, it is inevitable to tackle the product design methodology more since the UX industry continually grows and expands its horizon.

Other design principles are part of human-computer interaction, and they are equally essential in learning the whole concept of product design. However, it is also essential to learn other design principles.

This article will discuss the following concepts:

Who is Dieter Rams?

Dieter Rams, also popularly known as the "godfather of design". He is a German industrial designer, who found his love for design from his grandfather who is a carpenter.

Under his grandfather's mentorship, Rams discovered the artwork of constructing and repairing structures from wooden and different materials. Rams even won awards in carpentry.

In the 1950s, he was trained as an architect during the time when Germany was rebuilding its country after the war.

In 1955, Rams became interested in commercial layout and was offered a job at Braun, which is a German electric merchandise company. He was assigned to work at the office interior and later became involved in product design.

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After some years, Rams became the Head of Design at Braun and held the position for nearly 35 years. Together with his design team, he designed a number of iconic electrical products and furniture of the 20th century.

Dieter Rams Principles of Good Design

Less is more.

This is the principle of Dieter Rams, who as early as in the 70s, is deeply concerned about the environment and the problems of waste and consumer culture.

In his famous 1976 speech, he said:

"I imagine our present predicament will make future generations shudder at the recklessness in the way we today litter our homes, cities, and landscape with a mess of assorted garbage."

Unfortunately, his predicaments weren't wrong. Most of us can admit that we buy things we don't need, and the amount of waste we create is staggering. With natural resources becoming increasingly scarce, Dieter Rams believe both consumers and designers need to take responsibility for the world.

Dieter Rams' design philosophy continues to influence the future of design. Dieter Rams 10 principles can be applied to almost anything you can create, from physical objects to digital products. He is so influential that brands like Apple use his principles as guidelines.

Let's then review Ram's principles of good design below:

1. Good Design is Innovative

Good design is innovative

In the good design is innovative principle, Rams believes “the possibilities for innovation are by no means exhausted. Technological development always offers new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops together with innovative technology and can never be an end in itself."

The important thing to keep in mind here is that innovation should keep happening. Today's technology keeps getting better when it comes to the possibilities for innovative design improvements because the design is limitless. Designers of the past and present have no to keep innovating and improving.

2. Good Design Makes a Product Useful

A product is purchased to be used. It must meet certain criteria, that is should not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design should always emphasize the usefulness of a product and take into account anything that might detract from it.

While functionality is essential aspects to good design, Rams believes products should also look aesthetic. If we don't like the way something looks, we're unlikely to use it. Therefore, the aesthetic quality of a product is a very important part of its purpose.

3. Good Design Makes a Product Understandable

According to Rams' ideology or makes a product understandable, good design should clarify how a product works.

When a user perfectly understands and uses a design immediately, without consciously thinking about it is used, then the design is intuitive. Look around and choose some items in the room. How many do you use without thinking too much about it? Items such as cups, books, and pencils are designed to be instantly understandable and usable.

4. Good design is aesthetic

The aesthetic character of a product is an essential part of its usefulness because the products we use every day influence our person and our well being. However, only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

The design of any product we purchase must be inherently aesthetic. Ultimately, the appearance of an object will inform our opinions and impact our day-to-day well-being.

While the functional design of an object should be more important than aesthetics, as humans we all like things that look good. The natural impact of good aesthetics is a pleasure to the visual quality of any item in question.

5. Good Design Is Unobtrusive

Products that serve a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects items nor works of art. Therefore, its good design is unobtrusive or should be neutral and understated, to leave room for the user's self-expression.

6. Good design is honest

Have you ever bought something only to find that it doesn't work the way you expected? This is because it was poorly designed.

Rams believes that a good design is honest and should not fool anyone. Products must be made reliable, durable, and allow consumers to use them as they are intended to be used. It doesn't make a product more innovative, powerful, or valuable than it actually is. It does not try to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

7. Good Design Is Long-lasting

This means that it should not be trendy and therefore never looks outdated. Unlike unlike fashionable design, a product design should last for many years, even in today's today's throwaway society.

Clothes, cars, toys: things that are trendy or that look cool and that we often throw away as soon as the collective society decides that design is not fashionable.

Therefore, designing anything to be stylish is not a very useful aspect of a design. Things that are fashionable in our society today may be out of fashion tomorrow. A good design will last longer than things that are fashionable in our society because it never had to be fashionable in the first place.

8. Good Design Is Thorough Down To The Last Detail

“Nothing should be arbitrary or left to chance. The care and precision in the design process show leave respect for the user."

The best designers differ from good designers in terms of the care and precision with which they develop their projects. A designer's job is to understand and respect the user.

Therefore each step of the design methodology must be considered in its entirety. Every step, input, image, and text in the design process is designed to impress and help the consumer in every task they do until last detail.

9. Good design is environmentally-friendly

Design makes an important contribution to environmental conservation. It has the responsibility to conserve resources and minimize physical and visual pollution throughout the product lifecycle.

Instead of designing to follow a trend, Rams believes designers should really think about how to give their products timeless quality.

Rams said in his speech: “As designers, we have a great responsibility. I think designers should remove the superfluous. That means cutting out anything that's visual pollution or trendy because that kind of thing is short-lived."

10. Good design is as little design as possible

"Less, but better, because it focuses on the essentials and the products aren't loaded with non-essentials."

Rams motto, "less, but better." The way we design should always be with intention and never more than necessary.

Any aspect of a design that is not essential or useful to the function and functioning of a product is of no use to you and may be removed so that the product does not contain unnecessary material.


Dieter Rams 10 principles of Good Design can be considered applicable to both industrial and visual design processes as they provide good guidelines for suggesting the best ways to create new designs.

Some of the things we learn here include:

  • Our projects must be useful and innovative, using the materials we have well and effectively.
  • Our designs must also be thoughtful and carefully consider the opinions of those who consume them.

The phrases: "Good design makes a product useful” and “Good design is aesthetic” resonate with each other.

A good product must satisfy us not only in its functions and usability but also psychologically. Furthermore, consciously designed products with good aesthetics improve our overall experience and can also influence our well-being. One should not exist without the other.

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Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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