Design guidelines, also known as design directives, are written statements that articulate a strategy for how you will solve your design challenge, independent of a specific solution. They translate your findings—user needs and insights— into actionable design directives.
How to use design guidelines
You can translate your insights and observations into design guidelines by stating your findings in terms of solutions rather than observations about the user. For example, a user’s “need to feel instrumental in creating a gift” becomes “involve the user in creating a gift.”
You can also work backwards from a potential solution to create design guidelines. Ask yourself what aspects of the solution resonates with users, and makes those aspects into guidelines/directives.
Design guidelines should be independent of a solution—that is, they should be useful regardless of the design solution. You may know you’re designing a gift product, but unsure if it’s physical, digital, or experiential. The design guideline above (“involve the gift-giver in creating the final gift”) is still helpful even though you don’t yet know the ultimate design solution.
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