Principles of content design

Whenever I do anything involving a user experience, I think in terms of principles rather than rules.

Principle Rule
Reset spaces after you make a mess Don’t leave peanut butter, bread, and jelly on the counter

Principles are universal. Principles teach. Principles provide just enough guidance while also enabling freedom to design your own solution.

Rules on the other hand are highly contextual and specific. They are useful for novices learning a craft (“Don’t put mescal in a margarita”) but to gain expertise, you need to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Anything I consider a principle I tag as such and collect here:


I don’t repeat these to myself in the mirror, if that’s what you’re wondering. But they do play on repeat in the back of my mind (like Jon Acuff’s soundtracks) as I’m doing design work.

When I’m feeling stuck on a problem, I might ask myself, Have I started with the story?” Or when I’m considering options, I can ask, Do any fail to respect the user?” Or when I’m feeling excessively happy about some flow I’ve designed, I might challenge myself to ask, Does this solve the real problem?”

Feel free to adopt these as your own, especially if you are someone getting started in content design.

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