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Design Checklist Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Design Checklist

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Creating something for other people is hard. It is hard because we imprint ourselves on the things we create. Michael Beirut - in his wonderful book 79 short essays on design - refers to this as the “fallback strategy.” This is the prefer­ences and insight earned over time which can be summoned at will. This is why when presented with a blank slate we often start creating things for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s easy.

But often it is not for us. The majority of work we will undertake will be intended for someone else, in another place, under different circum­sta­nces. The design profession is about solving problems that are wholly foreign. We must approach our work as skeptics: exploring, questi­oning, and resear­ching.


This figure is from the wonderful textbook “Universal Principles of Design.” This figure, in turn, is an adaptation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The triangle diagram represents two things: the five criteria of good design and the magnitude of their import­ance. Let's break them down one by one.


The raison d’être. Can the thing do what it is supposed to do? Seriously, check. Did you just build something that can’t do anything? Be warned: being functional does not equate to sparse nor does it mean minimal.


Can it do it multiple times without exploding? Will it work in the enviro­nment it was intended for? Did you create a screen door for a submarine?


Can the intended audience pick it up and start using it? Does it make sense? Does it fit into it’s enviro­nment?

Maslow Hierachy of Needs


This is where things start to get intere­sting: can your users become experts with it? Can users improve and grow with this object; progre­ssing into mastery?


How can this thing be more? Is it beautiful? Does this thing allow for flexib­ility; for emergent behaviour? Are you limiting people or setting them free?