One way to keep everyone focused throughout a design process is to create a set of design tenets upfront. Great examples include “every millisecond counts” (Google) or “the more it’s used, the better it gets” (Adaptive Path).
But design tenets are often elusive and difficult to write. So I’m loving Stephen P Anderson’s presentation on Principles To Build By which contains 9 specific guidelines on how to write effective design tenets.
And By Opposing End Them
The killer insight in the presentation is:
Ask “what’s the opposite of” your design tenet
Stephen P Johnson
If you can imagine another product using the opposite version of your design tenet, you’re probably on to a winner. If not, well…
So “social and together” works well because the opposite – “individual and alone” – could easily work for a competitor. But “easy to use” is terrible, because no one would use “hard to use” as a design tenet. (This is all about differentiation).
It’s such a simple and powerful idea. I’ve already used it to chuck out half of the design tenets I had for The Heatwave!