This is part 4 of 5 in our series on Dieter Rams’ principles of design.

Imagine this: you visit a friend’s home for afternoon tea but there’s a problem – they’ve got way too many cushions on the sofa. While the decorative accents create a certain ambiance, too many are intrusive to your sitting experience. You struggle to immerse yourself in the rousing tea time goss.

This sofa analogy is the same as giving into our aesthetic impulses when designing any digital communication project and losing sight of our project’s most important raison d’être.

Good Design is Unobtrusive

You may have heard of the phrase, “Good design is invisible.” This principle promotes a similar idea. In the context of digital design, this principle means that the design should not get in the way of the user’s experience, but instead should enhance it. For instance, the placement of buttons, menus, and other design elements should be intuitive and easy to find, without distracting the user from the task at hand. The design should be simple and straightforward, guiding the user through the process without drawing attention to itself.

By following the principle of unobtrusive design, designers can create works that are more user-friendly and intuitive. The design becomes a seamless part of the user’s experience, rather than an obstacle to overcome. This can help to create a more enjoyable and efficient experience for the user, leading to greater engagement and satisfaction.

Mailchimp landing page design screens
Mailchimp’s landing pages are not only designed with a clear focus on their business goals but are also enjoyable to view for the user.


The design examples above illustrates a balancing act between function and aesthetics. This is where our too-may-cushions-friend went astray – they overdid it on aesthetics.

In a digital context, where transactions occur, you must also ask yourself. “Can your audience trust the experience you designed?” This brings us to our next design principle.


A collection of screens of Mailchimp's website
One way to achieve trust is through consistency of your brand’s design language, as seen here across multiple hero pages throughout Mailchimp’s website.


Good Design is Honest

Honesty is about clarity and transparency for your audience. We offer 3 ways to ensure your design project is honest.

  1. One way to achieve honesty in digital design is to ensure that the design accurately reflects the purpose and function of the product. For example, if the product is a banking app, the design should clearly convey this purpose through visual cues and language. The design should not try to mask the true purpose of the product or deceive the user into thinking it is something else.

  2. Another way to achieve honesty in digital design is to ensure that the design is consistent and reliable. The user should be able to trust that the design will work as intended and provide a consistent experience. For example, if the user clicks on a button, they should expect it to perform the action it is supposed to, without any unexpected consequences or errors.

  3. Additionally, honesty in digital design means being transparent about any data collection or usage. This includes being upfront about any personal information that is collected, and how it will be used and protected. This helps to build trust with the user and ensures that the design is not trying to hide anything.
A few page designs of Mailchimp's website
Mailchimp’s website redesign exemplifies clarity with outstanding information chunking and easy-to-understand content. All without sacrificing any brand flavour. This is made possible, in part, due to their superb visual identity system.


Overall, honesty in digital design is an important principle that helps to build trust with the user and ensure that the design is transparent and reliable. By creating designs that are truthful and consistent, designers can create a more engaging and trustworthy experience for the user.