Design Principles: All You Need to Know About Corporate Success

  • Vanessa Sanchez 05-10-2020 Read time (7 min)

Design Principles: All You Need to Know About Corporate Success

Business is becoming digitized globally, with changes in various means of production, skills and other advents in technology. However, this doesn’t mean that all corporations know how to achieve their goals.

Setting goals is one of the main ways businesses progress. All businesses set targets to generate revenue and achieve growth. How the goals are achieved is altogether another topic. In the digital world, this process is not so straight forward. In the case of large firms, where information, processes and teams are divided according to hierarchies and skill, it’s challenging to get everyone on the same page.

The nature of the digital world is abstract. Due to the ambiguity around many factors, organizations lack the digital culture and the set processes which are specific to digital work. In fact, in many hierarchies of an organization, many employees lack digital experience and knowledge to a large degree, making it difficult to implement goal-achieving strategies.

So what do organizations do? They look towards designing principles.


Design principles are guidelines that help digital designers find innovative ways to increase usability and appeal, influence perception, teach users, and guide sound production for projects. In fact, design principles have a larger role than this which extends beyond just the mental idea of the project.

Some experts have begun to re-term design principles as principles for the delivery of digital services. Why? Simply because there’s much more to design principles than we think. The principles provide a framework for designers to use. The rules, guidelines, considerations which are vital to digital service provision and creation are part of design principles.

In layman’s terms, digital principles work like a compass, pointing you to the direction you should be heading towards, and providing a benchmark against which you can measure your progress to steer it close to the principles. It’s not a step-by-step guide on how to achieve your goals; rather, it’s a large span of guidelines which you follow to reach the most accurate result.

Who Uses Them and Why?

Organizations, individuals and product design teams use design principles to begin projects with set guidelines and guide decision making.

They’re used to align the team to what really matters and what the company stands for despite the variations of the products or projects,


Establishing design principles sets a framework right from the beginning. It helps to increase team cohesion because everyone is trying to achieve the same goal, using the same blueprint.

Design Principles Help to Educate
Because of their extensive nature, design principles are great to share with the upper hierarchy of the corporation, like stakeholders. It contains information which will enable informed decision making, which is done at a faster pace and more efficiently.

Design principles help to establish a guideline for decision making and keep the direction stable. In fact, establishing principles in the beginning can help educate everyone about better approaches to the project.

Their format also helps to impart clear information, as each piece of information is backed by reasons. Again, it benefits the company from top to bottom, to be on the same page and well informed about the products in question.

More Team Work: Cooperation, Lesser Arguments and Better Problem Solving
In a large corporation, disagreements are bound to happen. Using design principles, inputs and decisions can be measured against what’s best for the project and decisions can be weighed accordingly.

Design principles keep the project policies at the forefront, which helps to critically evaluate any ideas put forth by the design teams or the stakeholders. It’s also a way to peacefully resolve conflict, especially when two opposing ideas are presented.

In other words, since everyone aims to follow the guideline as accurately as they can, no one takes offence when their idea is discarded for one which is closer to the goals.

Quicker and Efficient Decision Making
Digital projects are usually broken down and imparted to different teams because of their overwhelming nature. Because of this, achieving the goals may become challenging due to differences of opinion and approach.

Establishing the right direction is important for the product’s success. This is exactly why companies use design principles because a set of guidelines are laid out, ensuring that the project progresses in the right direction. As time progresses, more details are added to the framework, making the decision making process clearer and more goal-oriented.

Design Principles Can Enhance Company Culture
The various teams in a company function at different levels of productivity and efficiency at a given time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t fare well for the outcome of the project.

The secret to achieving efficiency at digital projects lies in an organization’s culture. This is where design principles come in to influence a similar thinking pattern and encourage the same mindset towards the task at hand.

What does this mean? It means inclusivity of all strata and departments of the firm and encouraging them to think along the same lines to achieve the macro goals set out. In other words, design principles help bind the company mentally and as one big team working towards a mutual goal.


Setting digital principles requires support, and achieving goals requires unanimous support. To set up efficient design principles that will help guide an organization’s activity, culture and output, everyone must work together to establish the design principles together.

In other words, the best design principles are established when everyone works together and is on the same page.

Design Principles Workshop: Bringing Everyone Together
A workshop is a great way to get everyone on board. It’s a way to educate, brainstorm and get the best of the whole team; which means from critical stakeholders to the junior design team, everyone should be encouraged to attend.

Workshops should aim to educate about the advantage of setting project design principles. The principles of digital design should be openly discussed and ranked according to importance. It’s a great way to see how divided or unanimous the team’s opinions are.

Defining the Cost of Your Design Principles
The organization must always be open to novel changes. Of course, everything comes at a price, but the payback is immeasurable.

It’s important to establish the cost of the design principles by getting your team together. It’s a great way to get your team thinking about how the organization can change and progress for the better.


Every organization will set their unique design principles according to their priorities and goals. However, the principles must stand for something concrete and must lead the company’s direction upwards. Hence, it’s important to judge whether a principle is good enough to keep. The principle essentially should be:

  • Authentic and genuine
  • Practical and actionable
  • Should have direction
  • Should be relatable and memorable

However, this is not all what a good principle that’s worth keeping looks like.

A Good Principle Is Able To Differentiate
Great design principles should be able to differentiate your corporation from the competition. It should impart your stance towards providing service or producing products and should characterize you as different from the market competition.

A Good Principle Can Counterbalance
A corporation is made up of a big mix of individuals with specialties. In order to deal with certain company culture problems, principles that serve as counterbalances, need to be set. For example, if a specific team makes decisions with a certain type of data, a unanimous principle about data and research should be set to guide future research.

A Good Principle Is Reassuring
The foundation of an organization needs to be very concrete. Good principles reassure the team and enhance efficiency towards projects. Setting a principle that appeases opposition with an educated and pacifist approach is one to keep.

A Good Principle Is Educational
A great design principle has the ability to bring in change to the organization’s culture by showing alternative ways to improve current workings. A principle which educates the team with detailed information enables everyone to understand what is required of them and helps the team work together with mutual understanding.

A Good Principle is Unobtrusive
A great principle is unobtrusive. Rather than restrict or forbid, it should allow the organization to freely practice its creativity and innovate to the best of its ability. It should also encourage a freer working culture with improved interpersonal relationships.

A Good Principle is Long Lasting
Because these principles will be guiding a large set of individuals for quite a while, they need to be concrete enough to be long lasting. Long lasting principles bring stability to the workings of a corporation, which ultimately influences the organization’s environment and success.


Corporations excitedly set design principles to encourage a better working culture, more corporate progression and better results. However, after these principles have been decided upon, they must be implemented to inculcate the change everyone desires.

How can corporations make sure that their design principles are efficiently used?

Make Them Visible
Making design principles visible is a way to begin introducing them. For the principles to work, everyone should have visual access to them, which will allow the departments and company culture to begin shifting towards the new principles.

Bring Out Your Inner Marketer
Coming up with creative ways to inculcate and practice the design principles is highly vital if you aim to make them stick. Marketing the principles as beneficial not only to the company, but to individual goals, is one of the ways to encourage individual cooperation to work towards following and achieving those principles.

Use the Tangible Principles
Using principles which are more tangible, like researching or testing methodology, is a great way to begin. Since these processes are tangible and can be easily changed or shifted, using novel ways of achieving the same goals will encourage everyone to try out the new methods until they become a core component.

Really Ingrain Those Principles into Everyone
Organizing corporate activities and in-house activities which circle around the new principles are ways to get everyone involved and talking about them. To ensure that everyone is on the same page and ready to follow the new principles, creative ways to make the design principles more appealing must be employed.


When the production of services and/or products begins, it can become quite stressful. Work is divided amongst various hierarchies of the corporation and amongst different teams. By splitting the project into different directions, it’s easy for the teams to lose track of the macro goals and to lose vision.

Design principles are comparable to socialization; they guide, shape, direct, predict and provide a framework of suitable acts, behaviors and processes required to attain a goal and stay afloat. They help to channel a corporation’s productivity in the right direction, saving time, brainpower and resources, which would have otherwise been wasted.

Leading by example is a great way to get the rest of the team on board. Workshops, briefings and ways to implement design principles practically are important to make sure that they are followed and reflected in the organization’s culture, environment and service.

Like it or not, the digital world is here to stay. Businesses are quickly moving towards updating themselves, but at the same time, it’s important for them to retain their essence – which can be done by setting design principles right from the beginning to guide behavior.

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