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The Pareto Principle of UX Design


Design is a vast field and is filled with creativity. Well, creativity knows no bounds and cannot be limited to just one person. However, when it comes to making your imagination saleable to a larger audience, there are things you must take care of. Some specific things or principles have been formulated over the years and continue to change as time moves forward.

UX Design principles may seem a bit restricting to some, but they ensure that the designers reach the end goal. UX Design Principles like the Pareto Principle of UX Design are some widely acceptable and applicable guidelines which the designers apply to ensure that their design is perfect for their audience. A group of people have created these principles from various fields. They made sure that the different aspects of design and how each affects human behaviour are considered before the principles are finalised.

The ultimate purpose for any design is to make sure that the masses are attracted towards it and understand it. The idea is to grab the audience’s attention and eventually be interested in the content you have created.

What is The Pareto Principle of UX Design?

The Pareto Principle of UX Design is also called the 80/20 rule of the Pareto. It is kind of a productivity hack amongst the designers. It means that 80% of the total project depends on 20% of the effort designers put into it.

Pareto Principle Examples

To explain the Pareto principle of UX design in the UX terms follow the below example –

Talking about the 80/20 rule of the Pareto, 80% of the audience will likely use 20% of the features that you offer to them in your design. Similarly, in the coding language of UX Design, if your 20% of the code goes wrong, it is likely to cause 80% of the whole function to go wrong.

Even though the Pareto Principle of UX Design is a design principle, and perhaps, an important one, but it is not written over the stone. It is like any other guiding principles. The idea behind the Pareto Principle of UX design is to inform the designers that a small number of things in their design have a much larger impact than they might expect.

Why Should You Care About The Pareto Principle of UX Design?

Not Perfect

The first and the foremost reason to keep the Pareto principle of UX design in mind is that it’s not perfect. As we have mentioned earlier, it is not a hardcore rule in the design world, but it does give a little edge.

For example –

Suppose you take the floor and notice that 80% of the traffic uses only 20% of the floor. It only makes sense that your focus on cleaning the 20% of the floor more thoroughly than the rest. While it won’t give a 100% clean floor, it will ensure that the main area is perfectly clean.

The same goes for the UX Designers as well in crafting user experiences. When you do notice that there are 20% features that your audience focuses on the most, work on perfecting them. The entire experience does not have to be perfect, but you must make sure that 20% of the features give your users at least 80% of the flawless experience.

Prevents Too Many Features

The Pareto Principle of UX Design’s idea is to ensure that the designers don’t focus on adding too many features within the design. Offering your clients too many elements within the plan will only confuse them further. It will do more harm than good. It is called “experience rot”.

Adding more and more features to your design will make it complicated, and the user might not even enjoy their user journey. Again, the 80/20 rule of the Pareto ensures that you focus mainly on the 20% of your users’ features are likely to use more.

No Emotional Attachments

The Pareto Principle of UX Design prevents any kind of attachment of the UX Designer to the design they create. It is not uncommon for the designers to face “design blindness” while creating a design. But this leads to them losing the objectivity of the invention, which can hamper the user’s experiences. Since the Pareto Principle of UX Design does not allow too many features in the design, it ensures that the designer focuses mainly on the user experience.

How to Imply 80/20 Rule in Graphic Design?

Talking about UX Design with the Pareto Principle of UX Design, the 80/20 rule in Graphic Design also holds a massive relevance. Below are a few examples –

Tabbed Menus

The bottom and the top navigation bars in most apps are the widely used ones. And hence feature the essential functions. The top 3-5 features in these navigation bars showcase only 20% of the full features available in the app. But they are used over 80% of the times by the audience or the users.

Default Options

Some 20% of features are default in nature and are widely used as well. For example, when you are ordering food, once you have added the item you want to order in the card, the next step is to confirm the order. Then the application takes you to the address option and so on. The following step buttons are either placed as singles in one column or with either one/two features more. The area is never crowded with too many buttons.

How to use the 80/20 Rule in Testing?

So far, we have discussed the Pareto Principle of UX Design in terms of designing and graphics. However, the next step after the designing is testing. And the 80/20 rule in testing also holds equal importance.

One of the best ways to understand the 80/20 rule in testing is to check how the users work with the application overall. Your user research will give you a presumed list of things that the users are likely to focus the most on. And more often than not, those features could turn out to be true. However, as you launch the website or the application, you’ll understand that things could be a bit different. You might come across situations where a feature that you thought would be in 20% frequently used features, but it would turn out that it is not. So as a designer, you’ll have to make changes accordingly.

The Pareto principle of UX Design may not exactly show you the number of users that are using the features or not using the feature. But it will surely tell you about the one that is not really falling within the charts.


In the end, as a UX Designer, you must remember that the Pareto Principle of UX Design is not a hard end rule. At the same time, it is said that it is an 80/20 rule, but it may not always be the case. Sometimes, it could be 90/10 or 60/40. In every way, there will be some features that your users use more frequently than the others, and you’ll have to perfect them while keeping a balance within the rest.

Himanshi Gupta has spent a little over 2 years writing and working for a few major of the news agencies of our Nation. It was during her Bacherlor's that she developed an interest in UX writing. In her free time, she is an ardent researcher, an avid reader and a gifted poet.

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