If you have never before encountered the work of Dieter Ram, here's a little background – born in Germany and growing up to become an industrial engineer, Ram is known for being one of the most influential designers of the 20th and 21st centuries. One day, after questioning the quality of his work, Ram began developing the ten principles that are so famous today. Whilst he applied these to his work in industrial engineering, they can also be applied to an individual's work in web design.
- Innovative: Web design that is innovative should provide a long lasting solution to a problem that is constantly evolving. For example, when mobile internet gained popularity it became the norm to design a separate website for mobile devices; timely, responsive design, which enables a website to adjust according to screen size, came along to replace this.
- Useful products: Or, in this case, web designs. What good is a website that is nice to look at but is completely useless to visitors? The best way to ensure that you achieve this is to understand the goals, needs and behavior of your target audience.
- Aesthetic: This is not just creating a website that is 'pretty'; it is about the strategic placement, sizing and coloring of every element on a given page. Remember, if it serves no purpose, it is only creating clutter and its inclusion should be rethought.
- Understandable products: In terms of web design, this principle refers primarily to the navigation of a website. Often, this is the first feature that a visitor will look for and, as such, if they do not understand how it works within a few seconds, they will look for the information elsewhere.
- Unobtrusive: A good design will never draw more attention to itself than it needs to – instead, visitors need to be able to find what they are searching for with as little distractions as possible. Control the attention of your users wherever possible for more successful results.
- Honest: Do not be one of those websites that tricks visitors into doing something that they do not want to. Whilst you can use design principles to point visitors in your desired direction, it is completely unacceptable to make these decisions for them.
Whilst this article only covers six of Ram's principles, his remaining four (long lasting, thorough, environmentally friendly, and minimal) are of equal importance when it comes to creating good web designs. By taking a closer look at all ten of Ram's principles, you could be well on your way to ensuring that all of your designs are good.