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Design principles


Statements capturing the intent of a new design without specifying the solution.

What you get

  • A set of statements, summarised from discovery work, that distill the user goals and communicate the key characteristics of the product or service to a wide variety of stakeholders, including clients, colleagues and team members.

Use when

  • You need a concise summary of discovery work.
  • Design and implementation teams need to reference discovery work without knowing the detail.
  • You want to ensure that user needs are used to shape and guide the idea-generation process.
  • You need to keep complex, multi-stakeholder projects moving together with a coherent vision of what we hope to achieve.

Design principles are not

  • KPIs – Key performance indicators define measurable impacts of a successful user experience. 
  • Rules – Design principles should not attempt to impose rules. Instead, they should be concise summaries of intent that guide solutions. 
  • Specifications – Design principles should never include specifics of a solution. They may include guidance on what is likely to contribute to a good experience (such as ‘mobile only’ or ‘mobile first’). 


Combine best practice design principles, like ‘be accessible’ and ‘be usable’ with project-specific principles. 

Key terminology

Discovery activities: Project activities (including research) that aim to uncover insights and explore customer lives, needs and contexts.