When starting a new business there can be an endless stream of tasks that need to be done: accounting, tax stuff, admin, designing things, writing content, and discussing concepts.
That’s not a complaint, I love that stuff – but it’s also important to take time to figure out why I’m doing this, and what I believe in. If you know what you stand for, it’s much easier to sell your products and reach new customers.
The five principles are a mix of design and business concepts that I use to guide my everyday actions. They’re in no particular order, they’re somewhat aspirational, and they’ll almost certainly evolve over time – but they’re a good window into what I strive to exemplify.
Our Core Principles
Think of the “User”
I don’t love that the tech industry has adopted the word “user” to describe people who go on the internet – something like "human" or "person" would be much better. However, it’s a fairly accurate term and has come to form the basis of a whole range of terminology and even professions, including User Experience (UX). The Nielsen Norman Group put it best:
“User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.
Good user experience can’t be bought through a rebrand, an Instagram campaign or a new website – it has to come from the top of an organization. It means that sometimes you’ll have to do the hard thing so that your customer doesn't have to.
The word “accessibility” can evoke images of automatic doors and icons of wheelchairs, but online it means much more. Accessibility means that your website – the information it contains and the functionality it offers – should be accessible to all.
For example, information should be codified in a way that makes it easy for those with visual impairments to access it – which also means it becomes more searchable for everyone else. It’s not just physical or cognitive impairments we need to consider – many people still have slow internet speeds or use older computers to go online. We need to make sure we’re building platforms that are open to everyone.
The online world has evolved at a relentless pace since its inception, and an increasing amount of our lives & businesses are subject to that same fast pace. As a designer and web developer, I try new ideas regularly and integrate what works into my workflow. While we need to embrace change for the growth of our business, we also need to avoid short-term trends whenever we can spot them.
Focus on Business Goals
Every business has goals, and any good marketing campaign, website redesign or company-wide rebrand needs to focus on those goals. A thoughtful purpose for a project gives all team members a central goal to target, and guides every decision. Should we invest in a Facebook promotional campaign? Perhaps, but only if that aligns with the aims of the project.
When you’re stuck in a tough spot, it probably means you need to remove something. It’s tempting to always add more stuff – but the people using our websites and interacting with our business don’t want more, they want easy. Human beings instinctively choose the path of least resistance – if we want to improve sales and user experience, we need to make that path as easy & quick to navigate as possible.
As a designer, I don’t want to tie myself to a certain technique or piece of technology, but I do want to commit to what I believe in. You’ll have your own values that underpin what you do – make sure you write them down so you’ll always remember what they are.