Don't recreate the platform03 Oct 2012
At Twitter, the Design team is broken down into a number of verticals: corporate, research, mainstream/feature, and platform. The balance of the last two, designing features and designing platforms, represents an important rule of thumb for building on the Web.
Don't recreate something the platform already provides. This guideline tends to manifest in two areas:
- Designing features versus designing reusable components.
- Developing new functionality versus utilizing existing functionality provided by the platform.
In the first one, your team has to find balance in building new things within the constraints of a potentially already designed system: your product. Don't spend time creating new variations on your grids, typography, buttons, navigation, and the like. Instead, spend your time innovating on top of constraints. Focusing on recreating your most common components in every project only undermines your own efforts. Identify those constraints and make them work.
Don't let rules cripple the innovation or progress of your team, but try to design within meaningful constraints. Great design is always mindful of striking out on your own and respecting the platform you're developing on.