Importance of Design Tenets

In our last class, Jeff talked about the major steps that the designers follow during the design process, namely,

1. Problem Goals

2. Problem Frame

3. Relevant First Principles

4. Solution Concept

5. Solution Criteria

I completely agree that out of these the 2nd and 3rd are the most important steps. I recall watching a video called “The Story of Ribbon” that underscores the same point. It is a very inspiring talk by Jensen Harris, who led the team that brought about the new UI ribbon interface in Office 2007.  You can download and watch it here.

Jensen talks about the complete design process that the team went through in quite detail. One of the things that he highlights is the formation of “Design Tenets”.  He talks of them as the path which if followed would lead us to achieve the Design goals. They help us make decisions and guide the way during the design process as we are trying to find possible solutions to our problem and choose among the various alternatives.

The project team also had a very smart idea to make everyone on the team followed the design tenets religiously while making decisions – they used them as content in their protototypes. So everytime the team members interacted with the designs, they picked up the tenets through osmosis.

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