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Design principles

Our five principles are a call to action—not a list of demands. While they may evolve and expand, we remain committed to the concepts within.

See our framework

5 Design principles

Design matters to us

  • Design manifests possibility and gives us a glimpse of our future. It provides us a sense of purpose and guides our intent.
  • Design is never about just an idea. It requires an understanding of its audience.
  • Design is strategic. It generates value by driving deliverables, outcomes and recommendations.
  • Design is bigger than a single skill set or discipline.
We design for resonance

We seek to create change and to make meaning. We aim to design product and service experiences we’re proud of in a consistent and repeatable way.

5 Design Principles

Our framework

As advocates, we believe in the righteous pursuit of equitable and accessible design. Designing for the needs of the most marginalized users, we create better experiences for everyone.

As we address technical feasibility and commercial viability, our design decisions and interventions must remain rooted in the expressed needs, desires and ambitions of users. Additionally, as designers, we must remember we are not saviors and we are not infallible.

We misinterpret, we make mistakes, we miss the mark. So to gut-check ourselves and our work, we continuously test and validate with users, interrogate our own biases, and seek critical feedback from peers.

We impact humanity by...

  • Lifting up others, assuming positive intentions and acknowledging the contributions of individuals while operating as a cohesive team
  • Product design
  • Rapid prototyping and lean UX
  • Pilot experiments

As researchers, we believe wonder is not a waste of resources.

Pursuing knowledge and understanding requires questioning the underlying purpose, intent and impact of our collective efforts.

Driven by intellectual curiosity and empathy, we seek a deeper understanding of others: our colleagues, our clients, and their user communities.

We are detectives (not psychics) reliant on evidence and data to guide our discovery. We seek to interrogate assumptions and invalidate hypotheses—continuously question orthodoxy and what others take for granted—to uncover facts as the foundation for our designs.

We satisfy curiosity by...

  • Approaching design challenges with humility and intellectual honesty
  • Using Socratic questioning to open up possibilities before narrowing on selective solutions
  • Conducting lean research with focus, structure and rigor—customizing or creating new research techniques when appropriate
  • Remembering users are experts in their lived experience, clients are experts in their business, and we are experts in investigating both

As innovators, we believe remixing is the sibling of invention.

We respect the validity and usefulness of existing tools and frameworks— readily incorporating these things into our own work.

Working across categories and industries, we’re able to spot and solve root problems borrowing inspiration and ideas from adjacent spaces beyond our clients’ domain expertise.

With fresh eyes and humility, we identify powerful connections between disparate ideas and seemingly unrelated patterns, to combine these elements in new and novel ways.

We apply ingenuity by...

  • Recognizing a brilliant idea can come from anyone and anywhere: a client workshop, a “layperson”, another industry, a long run, or a hot shower
  • Synthesizing best practices and user experiences across systems, industries, firmographics, and markets in creative and compelling ways
  • Employing myriad methods to understand existing systems, user needs, and problem spaces
  • Taking personal responsibility for staying ahead of design and technology trends as well as popular culture
  • Using existing pattern libraries or UI kits for faster frontend implementation
  • Making the most of what already exists—minding resources and redundancies

As communicators, we believe clarity and complexity can coexist.

Distilling ideas to their essence is about reframing and summarizing concepts—not simplifying them. We respect the inherent complexities of our clients’ work and their users’ realities.

We continuously push for tangibility and specificity in our design—paring things down for coherence and comprehension by others. Sharpening the inquiry and refining the problem statement, we also bring our client’s challenge into focus (for us and them).

We cut to clarity by...

  • Conducting analysis and synthesis to uncover interesting, relevant, actionable insights
  • Creating diagrams and visualizations to help untangle complicated systems and workflows
  • Telling stories that bring users to life and illustrate possibilities and potential
  • Cultivating a shared understanding through metaphors and analogous examples
  • Planning and facilitating convenings—workshops, work sessions and readouts—to coalesce around specific goals and nuanced understanding

As craftspeople, we believe successful product and service experiences are honest and aesthetic.

We love utility and beauty equally—and help our clients see value in both.

We strike this balance through thoughtful experimentation and joyful exploration. Harnessing the power of sensory language (color, imagery, symbols, sound, haptics), we connect the identity of an experience to a user’s expectations.

When in doubt, we make things. We know some experiences will be immersive and sensorial, while others need to remain efficient and austere. But regardless of what we make, it must all be well made.

We achieve quality by...

  • Scoping and structuring projects to support iteration, experimentation and exploration
  • Having a bias for action: we draw to think, build to learn and make to understand
  • Engaging in critique and respectful debate to ensure non-arbitrary design decisions are made and defensible design rationale exists
  • Respecting data without allowing it to drive or revoke our creative freedom Integrating with other practices for cross-disciplinary collaboration
  • Focusing on moments that matter and prioritizing features and functionality that make a meaningful difference
  • Participating actively in design rituals and professional development
Design principles provide a powerful and practical framework for product teams
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