Rules of thumb for novice designers (like myself)

My strategy as a novice designer is to keep track of some rules of thumb to reduce the probability of making bad mistakes from lack of experience. If I’m careful enough, then I can often get to a point where just a little polish from an experienced designer is what it takes to get it from the 80% to the 100% mark.

It is possible to build a beautiful interface that is completely unusable, and it’s possible to build an utilitarian and maybe unbeautiful interface which is very usable. I would aim to do the latter until you’re ready to hire a designer. It’s likely that the designer will have to rethink a lot of it from scratch as that’s just part of the design process, but that’s about as much as you can hope for.

These design guidelines have helped me reduce the designed-by-a-programmer effect when building consumer applications.

Written by Andrey Petrov on Sep 21, 2010. Updated on Mar 31, 2012.