39 architecture principles relevant to UX design

I’m interested in the overlap between UX design and architecture. I asked an architect if there’s a good introduction to the principles of architecture. They recommended “101 Things I Learned in Architecture School” by Matthew Frederick. Here are 39 principles from the book as applied to UX design.

  1. The white space that results from placing elements should be considered as carefully as the elements themselves.
  2. Design to accommodate a specific experience. Envision actual situations or experiences, and design to accommodate and enhance them.
  3. A bad designer addresses the functional problem. A good designer is also concerned with meaning.
  4. Good design is not merely visually interesting but is driven by underlying “themes”. Thoughtless design with decoration applied to “dress it up” is not good design.
  5. The more specific a theme is, the greater its appeal is likely to be. It will help others identify with it in their own way.
  6. Opportunities for multiple design justifications can be found in almost every element. The more justifications you can find or create for any element, the better.
  7. Start with the most general elements of the design and work gradually towards the more specific aspects of it.
  8. A designer must know enough about other disciplines to negotiate and synthesise competing demands while honouring the needs of the stakeholders.
  9. Engaging with your work both subjectively and objectively are crucial to good design.
  10. When designing any individual element, always consider how its design can express and reinforce the theme.
  11. A good designer understands that as the project changes, the theme might be challenged. They can create a new theme that incorporates all that they now know about the project.
  12. Use rough drawings for rough ideas and detailed drawings for detailed ideas. Rough drawing encourages broad thinking.
  13. Just because an interesting idea occurs to you doesn’t mean it belongs in what you’re designing. Subject every idea to careful, critical consideration.
  14. The most important a difficult skill for a designer to develop is to be attached to the process and not the product. That means, among other things, exploring the problem thoroughly, not being attached to specific solutions, and being able to let go of your work if necessary.
  15. Improved design process, not a perfectly realised product, is the most valuable thing you gain from one project and take with you to the next.
  16. The most effective, most creative problem solvers engage in continual internal dialogue of testing, stretching, criticising, and redirecting their thought processes.
  17. Richer experiences are often found in elements that are discreetly selected and framed. Work to carefully shape, size, and place elements such that they are specific to the experiences they address.
  18. Colour and depth tend to convey emotions better than flatness.
  19. Any aesthetic quality is usually enhanced by the presence of a counterpoint.
  20. A static or symmetrical design appears to be at rest and suggests power, firmness, conviction, certainty, authority, and permanence.
  21. A dynamic or asymmetrical design encourages the eye to explore and suggests activity, excitement, fun, movement, flow, aggression, and conflict.
  22. To create a dynamic, balanced design, make a strong initial design decision that is dynamic and unbalanced. Then follow it with a secondary dynamic move that counterpoints the first move.
  23. Cool colours tend to recede from the viewer, while warm colours advance.
  24. Don’t use a dozen separate design elements when the combination of three design elements could accomplish as much.
  25. If you can’t explain your ideas to your grandmother in terms that she understands, you don’t know your subject well enough.
  26. Beauty is due more to harmonious relationships among the elements of a composition than to the elements themselves.
  27. Asymmetrical balance is more difficult and is considered by many to demonstrate a capacity for higher-order thinking.
  28. Shapes have inherent dynamic qualities that influence our perception and experience.
  29. An effective oral presentation of a project begins with the general and proceeds towards the specific.
  30. Less is more.
  31. No design system is or should be perfect. Exceptions to the rule are often more interesting than the rules themselves.
  32. Being genuinely creative means you don’t know where you are going. Shepherd the process rather than try to directly control it.
  33. True style does not come from a conscious effort to create a particular look. It results out of a holistic process, perhaps accidentally.
  34. All design endeavours express the zeitgeist, or the spirit of the age.
  35. Forget about what you want the design to be. Instead ask “What does the design want to be?”
  36. Limitations encourage creativity.
  37. A design problem is not something to be overcome, but an opportunity to be embraced.
  38. When a design problem is so overwhelming as to be nearly paralysing, don’t wait for clarity to arrive before you start to design. Designing is not simply a way of depicting a solution, but is itself a way to learn about the problem.
  39. When you come up with a concept or idea, give it a name. The act of naming something helps you to explain to yourself what you have created.