Design Principles

Get inspiring design principles with this quick group-exercise. Concrete principles which you’ll use on a daily basis in your design. Use this technique when setting up a new Design System, or when you want to create a shared set of values with your fellow designers.

Design Principes

When to use this tool?

The purpose of the Design Principles exercise is to quickly define design principles that actually help you. Use this technique when setting up a new Design System or when you want to create a shared set of values with your fellow designers.

We use this tool as part of our Design System Take Off, where we help you get a flying start with your Design System. A good start is important: our research shows that if you don’t start right, you will end up with a proliferation and inconsistency.


+/- 30 minutes


3-10 participants

You’ll need

• Average-size post-its
• Small voting dots
• Markers
• Whiteboard, flip-over or Magic Chart
• Time Timer

Step by step

  • Appoint a facilitator before you start. This person guides the exercise, keeps track of time and documents the results
  • Each person writes down the things that result in a very bad user experience. One item per post-it. We do this in silence. Choose your 3 best post-its. Tip: use your customer profiles!
  • All participants briefly present their top-3 topics (1 minute per person). Stick them to a wall
  • Give everyone 2 voting-stickers. Let the participants select the most important / universal problems
  • Based on the most votes you choose the 4 most important problems (and in high exception 5)
  • Stick the chosen post-its as a column on a whiteboard
  • For each post-it: rewrite the problem into a catchy principle of about 3-5 words. Make sure they’re not too wordy: you want to have these in people’s mind instead of having to look them up!
  • Make your principles actionable

This is a starting point, your actionables will evolve.

So you got your Design Principles: now what?

You and your team have now defined the most important high-over principles. You’ll refine them later, during your design process.

With this tool you get an initial outline of your Design Principles for your Design System, but we know from our research that many Design-System projects fail to involve the organization and properly organize the workflow. That’s why why you should check out our proces-puzzle.

Getting started with Design Principles?
Maurice will be happy to help you on your way.

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