Functionalism in UX: Applying Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design ✨

Functionalism in UX: Applying Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Good Design ✨


Let's talk about one of the most influential industrial designers of our times, Dieters Rams.

He was in charge for many years of the creative direction of the German brand Braun, and led one of the most important movements of the industrial design known as functionalism for both product design and architecture. A design movement in which the form of the object is driven by the purpose of the object and not by its aesthetics. His design philosophy has been about achieving purity in design through reduction and restrain.

In the 60s, while working on such iconic products as the T3 radio (the one that inspired Apple’s iPod design), he developed the now-famous 10 principles or commandments of good design

It’s amazing to see how valid these rules are today, in the “less is more” age. Let’s examine and see how we can incorporate his principles in our designs.

# 1 Good design is innovative

There are plenty of easy and already widely established ways of solving various design problems. Without having to reinvent the wheel, this principle is about considering new approaches and solving design problems by thinking outside of the box.


#2 Good design makes a product useful

This principle is about designing products and services with purpose, solving problems in a useful way, focusing on the essential.

#3 Good design is prioritising aesthetics

Aesthetic consistency can drastically improve user experience. It brings additional layers of delight through clarity and makes an experience more visually appealing and memorable.

When talking about something aesthetic we don’t refer strictly to the set of colours, typography, and sizes of the visual components but to the execution of the set of elements that define the service, we're talking about the entire design system and its consistency.


#4 Good design makes a product understandable

“A user interface is like a joke, if you have to explain it isn’t that good”

Users should understand a product or service without (or very few) explanation. All user tasks must be clear and require minimum effort.

#5 Good design is unobtrusive

Products and services fulfilling a purpose are like tools, they are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to avoid becoming intrusive and taking up too much space or unnecessary time.


#6 Good design is honest

We should be honest with our users about what we’re delivering to them.

“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.”

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# 7 Good design is long-lasting

We have to be careful not to systematically rely on the latest design trends. “Avoid being fashionable and therefore never appear antiquated”.  A good example of a timeless solution for a long-lasting problem is Google.


#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 user.

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#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.

#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.”


The 10 principles in our design process

Naturally, it’s hard to follow each principle but always have them in mind and try to apply the principles as best you can.

For more Rams goodness click here