Pop Investing: Less, but Better


Every year financial institutions develop thousands of new investment products, yet intuitive, functional design is rarely the central concern in how these products are structured.

Dieter Ram would be disappointed. The German industrial designer is famous for his elegantly simple approach to consumer products at Braun, many of which are now on display at a newly opened exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. But while Ram’s Functionalist school of design is still emulated for its clean, modern aesthetic (just take a look at your iPod), Ram wants more. “Companies or CEOs that comprehensively take design seriously can sadly still only be counted on my 10 fingers,” he said in a recent Wall Street Journal article.

The investment industry – though not a traditional “design industry” – is not exempt from this critique. In fact, the creators of investment products are often accused of going the opposite direction and making products intentionally abstruse.

To guide designers, Ram has articulated “Ten Principles of Good Design.” The financial industry could go a long way toward gaining trust with the public (and selling a lot more, too) by taking these principles to heart.

Here are Ram’s design principles and how they might apply to the design of financial products.

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