In order to evaluate anything, you have to start with a set of standards and criteria by which to judge it. To do that, I have a set of principles that guide all of the product design work I do.
Products should be free of clutter and unnecessary interface elements. Information hierarchy is obvious and elements are organized intuitively. Approach problem solving by looking for ways to reduce complexity. Simple does not mean plain/boring/default. Nor is it easy. Less, but better.™
Product should have the distinct look and feel of an app designed with intentionality and uniformity. Interfaces look like complete thoughts. Icons appear as they were designed as part of a cohesive system. Padding and margins are uniform throughout. While there may be differences and variations, they are considered and still look like a system or family of styles.
Users of should enjoy the experience of consuming and creating content. The UI is helpful and copy is friendly and upbeat. Product experience should be characterized by eliminating friction, creating intuitive workflows, and generally making life easier for users.
Functionality and content inform the design; design informs the experience - in that order. Design by the mantra that “content drives the design.” Design is not an exercise in decorating interface elements. All copy across the product experience should be intentional, strategic and well-written.
Product should allow for a certain amount of customization. Personalization goes a step beyond customization in that it doesn’t just affect the way things look, it impacts the way things feel to users. It delivers content users want it, based on their past use, preferences, or location. This is key to creating an experience that is both unified and pleasing.
As often as possible, products should be designed to take advantage of the efficiency gains of reciprocal association. Workflows allow users to create and configure components in parallel without taking them out of the flow of their work.
Onboarding & Guidance
When a user encounters any screen across the product experience, they intuitively understand what should be acted upon and what they can act upon — and how to do it. Where it makes sense, upon first visit to a zero state screen, users are to be guided through the initial process of getting started.
Interfaces are to be designed intentionally to make affordances for users with vision impairment, color blindness, and any permanent or temporary limitations using a mouse or keyboard. Make it easier for users to see and hear content. Help users navigate and find content.