Design Principles [WIP]

AKA a (trying not to be douchey) design manifesto for myself while designing for the Internets.


It’s not about what program you’re using, it’s about the message you’re trying to communicate. Choose the tool that satisfies your objectives. 


Form follows function.


It’s not about whether designers should code, or whether everything should look like Material Design, it’s about whether designers should think. We need to think about the platforms where our work lives, how it’s developed and how it’s deployed.


Think about what are the cultural and historical references to the work you’re creating. Think about why you are building something a certain way and what influences those decisions.

Gray areas

We need to have space for lateral thinking. There aren’t too many concrete answers, things are amorphous and we must be comfortable in that. There is no black and white in design.

Thinking 3-dimensionally

Much design pedagogy comes from industrial design. In the meantime, while user experience and digital product design catches up, these are the pillars we use. It makes a lot of sense that as web design practitioners we should think three-dimensionally. When you’re navigating through a website, there are many similarities to navigating through architecture. Sometimes you don’t mind being lost, and sometimes you need the signs to guide you. Create frameworks that provide structure and a reference point for visitors, but that also leave room for interpretation.

Explaining our Work – Three zoom levels

All the way out for strategy to pitch our work, medium zoom for creative direction and user experience, and zoomed all the way in for graphic design and details.


We are working for businesses so business objectives need to be priority.

Stand up for yourself

Be bold. If something’s not right, call it out and do something constructive to solve it.

Don’t lower your standards so that others will feel comfortable.

People won’t like you more for being mediocre. 

Be original

Remember why you became a designer. If it was to make websites that look like everyone else’s, then you should probably go back and think of a better reason.


Talk to everyone involved in the project, at every opportunity, every day.


Listen to your team members, listen to your users and listen to your clients. And try to keep in mind everything you’ve learned throughout the process.

Eliminating waste 

Find the core element that gives the essence of the product. We can simplify our products and reduce unnecessary complexity.

Vow of chastity (Adapted from John Morgan’s famous letter)

Design nothing that is not worth reading.

Design is design

The fundamental principles of design are the same across all disciplines. Human behaviour is the same and so the design principles are the same, whether you are designing for a mobile screen or a giant billboard.

Design for people

Only collect data if you are also going to use it to improve the experience for people.

Open your mind

Look at art, go to shows, look at architecture, read literature. Other disciplines can feed into your work and make it better. But most importantly look around you! The sights, sounds and characters of our everyday lives are sometimes the most inspiring thing of all.


Specifically on Being an Designer/Entrepreneur

Talk to everyone, but LISTEN to the right people.

And be independent enough to ignore the ones you need to.

You can’t do this alone.

Surround yourself with the right people that will give you constructive criticism and sound advice, and find a partner to share responsibilities of growing a business. 

Published by Elizabeth Pizzuti

Design, art, and cats mostly

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