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No Design


5 Examples of No Design

No design is the principle that design get out of the way of the user such that it is completely unnoticeable. The following are illustrative examples.

Desire Path

Desire path is the way that users naturally want to do things. This is an analogy to a path that pedestrians cut through a field while ignoring a sidewalk that takes a longer route between two common destinations.

Least Astonishment

Least astonishment is the principle that you not change established user interface conventions because these help to make interfaces intuitive. For example, you wouldn't design a car that goes left when you turn the steering wheel right.

Zero Learning

The principle that there should be nothing to learn in order to use a product or service. This would include steps such as setup and configuration.

Form Follows Function

Form follows function is the principle that the use of a thing dictates its design and not the other way around. For example, human factors that define the shape of a comfortable chair.


The principle of no design can go too far to become ideological rather than helpful to the user. For example, the idea of input is error or less is more whereby user interface designers seek to remove all user input -- even if this would be useful.

Common Misconception

It is a common misconception that no design means "no visual design" such as a device that communicates without a visual user interface using some other medium such as audio. This is not what no design means.


No design is associated with industrial age minimalism such as white or black slightly curvy products designed to offend as few people as possible. This can be crushingly boring and is motivated by industrial needs as opposed to customer needs. For example, when selling a product at scale, color variety can result in supply chain issues such as overstocked unpopular colors.
No design suggests that users should just do whatever comes naturally to them and would prevent innovation such as powerful new ways of doing things. Also, usability isn't the only design goal -- sometimes a desire path destroys a garden, is dangerous or has some other negative effect that users haven't considered.
Overview: No Design
The principle that design get out of the way of the user such that it is completely unnoticeable.
Related Concepts

Design Principles

This is the complete list of articles we have written about design principles.
Ban The Average
Design Principles
Design To The Edges
Essential Complexity
Form Follows Function
Genius Loci
Input Is Error
Least Astonishment
Least Effort
More Is Different
More Is More
Negative Space
Truth To Materials
Worse Is Better
More ...
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A list of design theories that are potentially useful.

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A few differences between design and scientific thinking.

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The basic meanings of design.


An overview of variety in design.

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An overview of modular design.

Visual Design Principles

A list of visual design principles.


An extensive list of usability principles.

Customer Needs Examples

A list of common customer needs.

Input Is Error

An overview of input is error.

Graphic Design Examples

An overview of graphic design with examples.

Customer Interactions

An overview of customer interactions with examples.

User Analysis

An overview of user analysis with examples.

Quality Issues

An overview of quality issues with examples.

Quality Objectives Examples

A list of measurable quality objectives for products, services and experiences.
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