Page last updated: July 28, 2020

Our design principles

👋 Hello, and welcome to the design principles for ethereum.org. This is part of an ongoing process to evolve and improve ethereum.org.

Our principles inform the look and feel of the site and the content that's on it.

You should read these before you contribute to ethereum.org.

What are design principles?

Don't worry, they're pretty simple! Design principles are a set of guidelines we refer to when designing (i.e. creating, maintaining or updating) something.

In the context of ethereum.org these design principles are the foundation for what we want the website to represent and project to the world. They're both aspirational and functional. It's not just how the website looks, but also how it works and even how it makes someone feel. Everything, from the colors to the page layouts to how we talk about Ethereum on the website should be informed by these principles.

The principles in practice

Let's look at an example. One of the principles is “Credible”, which means that we want visitors to the site to feel and know that the site is trustworthy - just like the wider Ethereum ecosystem. Within that principle, we have 3 functional “sub-principles” that we believe are actionable steps we can take to make the site credible:

  • “Fresh” i.e. keep the content up-to-date.
  • “Social Proof” i.e. show the size, diversity and activity of the ecosystem (you know: Eth2 progress, DeFi, gaming, all the hackathons, etc.)
  • “Consistent” i.e. consistency in the design of the site and the tone and accuracy of the writing.

So when we're making design decisions, or copywriting decisions, we can then reference the “Credible” principle and ask:

  • “Does the site reflect current information?”
  • “How and where are we showing the ecosystem's size and activity?”
  • “Are the new proposed contributions by a community member that I'm reviewing consistent with the current design and writing on the site?”

The ethereum.org design principles

1. Inspirational

The site should inspire users to dream of how Ethereum can change the world. It should motivate people to explore, play and tinker with the tools and apps of the Ethereum ecosystem.

  • Radical: The site should communicate Ethereum's ambitious goals to meaningfully change the world. It should be clear that Ethereum is not just some new tech stack - it is a transformational technology.
  • Empowerment through education: The site should educate people so they can understand Ethereum's potential, find their place in the ecosystem, and feel empowered to participate in it.

Visual Direction • Content

2. Universal

Ethereum is a global, decentralized project and our audience reflects this. The site should aspire to be accessible to everyone, and sensitive to the world's many cultures.

  • Accessible: The site should follow accessibility guidelines - including for people with low-bandwidth connections.
  • Straightforward: The site should be simple and unambiguous. Copy shouldn't use language that may be misinterpreted or lost in translation.
  • Ethereum is multi-faceted: Ethereum is a project, a codebase, a community, and a vision. Ethereum is valuable to different people for different reasons, and there are many ways to be involved.

Writing systems • Use of colour • Visual Direction • Content

3. A Good Story

The website should function like a good story. Visitors are on a journey, and the content you contribute is a part of that. Your contributions should fit within a clear narrative: one with a beginning (introduction/entry point), middle (set of learnings and insights), and end (a link(s) to relevant resources, or next steps).

  • Hierarchical: A clear, hierarchically structured information architecture helps visitors to ethereum.org navigate the site "as a story" as they seek to achieve their goals.
  • A Stepping Stone: We're a stepping stone for anyone looking for answers. We don't want to replace or become a substitute for the many resources that already exist. We give an answer & provide reliable next steps.

User Journeys • Content

4. Credible

People may be seeking their introduction to the Ethereum ecosystem or they may be skeptics. Acknowledge that responsibility in how you communicate. Ensure that they both leave with greater confidence in the Ethereum ecosystem.

  • Fresh: Always up to date.
  • Social Proof: Show the size, diversity and activity of the ecosystem.
  • Consistent: Consistency in design and content communicates credibility.

Visual Direction • Content

5. Collaborative Improvement

The website is the product of many contributors, just like the ecosystem as a whole.

  • Open: Celebrate transparency of source code, processes and projects across the ecosystem.
  • Extendable: Modularity is a key focus behind everything we do, and so contributions should be modular too. The core design, component code & implementation of the site should enable it to be easily extended in the future.
  • Experimental: We are constantly experimenting, testing and iterating.
  • Collaborative: This project brings together all of us.
  • Sustainable: Setting up for long-term maintenance by the community

Information Architecture • Visual Direction • Code

You can see our design principles in action across our site.

Give feedback

Share your feedback on this document! One of our proposed principles is “Collaborative Improvement” which means that we want the website to be the product of many contributors. So in the spirit of that principle, we want to share these design principles with the Ethereum community.

While these principles are focused on the ethereum.org website, we hope that many of them are representative of the values of the Ethereum ecosystem overall (e.g. you can see influence from the principles of the Ethereum Whitepaper). Maybe you even want to incorporate some of them into your own project!

Let us know your thoughts on Discord server or by creating an issue.