Design Principles

Written statements, generally in the form of imperatives like “Earn people’s trust,” that serve as guiding lights during decision-making. Good design principles are specific to the project, not general truths, and should help teams say “no” to otherwise interesting proposals or generate ideas when they’re stuck.

Project Vs Global

In the case of this methodology, we’re discussing project specific principles that help guide you design process for a particular problem space. Project or journey principles are more specific than global and should appropriately follow the global design principles.

When to Use

  1. To guide decision making later in the design process.


  1. Using internal documents and kickoff activities, gather terms or concepts that seem significant to project goals and organizational culture.
  2. Using existing research, list terms or concepts that seem particularly important to customers or user groups.
  3. Cluster similar terms and concepts together on a whiteboard or other writing space open to everyone in the project. Name the clusters.
  4. Ask the team and stakeholders if they would like to add, change, or edit any concepts or groups.
  5. From the groups on the board, create three to five final principles. Using evidence from partner or user research, write one to two sentences in support of each principle.
  6. Share the principles in a place accessible to the team throughout the project, and refer to them often while making decisions.



Templates (if applicable)

Created by: Joe Steinkamp | Last updated by: Joe Steinkamp