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UX Rules – 10 Key Principles

top 10 ux rules

There are many UX principles and UX laws that a designer knows. These UX rules are not just written by great UX designers like Jakob Nielsen and Don Norman, but also by many psychologists who study human behaviour and human interaction. Some of the principles are coined decades ago but are still relevant today. Some of the UX principles are somewhat absent in designs used today, but hopefully by following these UX principles, one can increase the change of your UX being knockout.

Principles of Designing a Memorable User Experience

The UX design is all about the user’s experience with the website or the application. As per the Interaction Design Foundation, UX Design is defined as, fundamental points of advice for making easy-to-use, pleasurable designs are we select, create and organize elements and features in our work”. For budding designers, it is important to know some of the principles of designing a memorable user experience. Consumer’s interaction with the design and the content is the heart and soul of UX Design.

Some of the principles are as follows:

●  Design for Users

 An important UX rules, while designing a product is to know the consumers. It will help in planning if you have an idea about the needs and pain points of the users. So, user research is an essential part of user experience design. Empathizing with people will provide value for people who will use your product and focus on problem-solving instead of features.

● Your users are not like you

Users do not think like you. Following the UX rules, the product you build, you would know it from start to finish. Your product is already imprinted, with your decisions and expressions. Many users are using your product for the very first time. They have something on their mind that helps them achieve their goal. Some of them might be having a bad experience of using the same kind of product, and others may be poking around. 

Some designers assume that people who are using their product are like them, which is strictly against UX rules. They have the same belief, behaviour, and need. Only people who are different from them would make an alternate choice, which is not correct.  In social psychology, this is known as False-Consensus Effect, a one of the UX laws with practical examples.

Knowing how people will use something is essential – Donald Norman.

It is essential to know your users because it, like the UX rules,  forces you to be objective and make decisions based on your needs and pain points of the users. One of the techniques to overcome False-consensus bias is Usability Testing

● Usability testing

Following the UX rules, usability testing is conducted to evaluate the satisfaction of the users with the product. In this, the users are asked to complete a specific task while the researcher is observing them. The observer will watch, listen, or take notes. The goal is to identify the problems faced by users; qualitative and quantitative data is gathered. If more people are facing the same issues, then recommendations are made to resolve those issues.

● Reduce Cognitive overload

Reduce Cognitive overload in ux rules

There is a phenomenon in Psychology called Hick’s law, or the Hick–Hyman law, which states that the more choices users have, the longer it will take for a user to make a decision. It is one of the basic UX laws with examples and used as one of the UX rules quite often. The information overload occurs when the system presents irrelevant data to the users; in this, the designer picks up every information related to the product, which results in too much noise that the signal is almost impossible to find. 

The second problem arises when the designer does not follow the UX rules is how to present the data accurately, viz. no methodology for processing, comparing and evaluating information source. People identify patterns related to the real world. Data visualization can be of use to identify those patterns. But the data seem to be overwhelming when wrong visualizations are used. 

The final problem people talk about data overload is the lack of clear structure in groups of information and weak clues between them. 

Tips to avoid information overload Simplify it – less information is easy to understand. Relevant information – use the information which meets the need of the users. Supportive information – if the user needs more information, make sure it is easily accessible.  Allow users to take actions – if users need to complete the task then and there, make it visible.

Follow the above steps, apart from the UX rules to reduce cognitive overload that our users have to handle.

●  Designing with real content

Designing with real content

Whether you are designing a brand-new application, or creating a landing page, or working on new features, the design should always start with the content-first approach as per the UX rules. When I talk about content, I am referring to everything which includes videos, icons, images, text. 

One of the UX rules is that images are highly likely to be recalled over words. Studies suggest that images outperform text dramatically in human memory recall. So, by pairing text with images, We can induce the Picture Superiority Effect – another one of the UX Laws with practical examples to increase the chance for the users to remember the information.

In the very first draft of wireframes, you will see lorem ipsum text used as a place holder before the designer asks for content. Following the UX rules – after positioning the text, the product becomes more complex and realistic. That is why using lorem ipsum does not fit the bill anymore. If, I am to talk about the real content that does not mean the finalized copy of every title and paragraph. It just means that content should be relevant and minimum make sense.

Designing with real content helps ensure that we know the product better. The UX rules state that placing the text precisely gives us more knowledge of the goal. As a designer, we talk about user experience, the story we want to express to the visitors. The same applies to content, which is the part of the design, and we want our visitors to read it. 

If you are a part of a small team and writing content by yourself, use your own words. Get feedback and edit it. If you are a part of a team, you have someone for writing the content part. Get them involved in the project at the beginning itself as soon as possible. This content-first approach based on the UX rules will strengthen the projects you are currently pursuing.

● Recognition over recall

Recognition over recall in ux rules

The goal while designing the product as per UX rules is to make it as simple as possible. The experience should have a memorable flow and be easy to understand. More familiar the interface, the more people will tend to visit it. 

Difference between recall and recognition – Recall is how we retrieve information from our brain through learning and practice. For example, we recall information during exams. Through our previous knowledge and experiences, information is retrieved using recognition from our brain. 

According to another one of the UX principles – Nielsen’s heuristics, there should be consistency and standards and match between the system and the real world. The human brain is wired to recognize patterns quickly rather than recalling things. 

If we are, for example, redesigning an interface. The new design should not be different from the previous one otherwise it will be too hard for the users to adopt it because the mental models are obsolete and users no more recognize what they have to do with the new interface. 

As per the UX rules, the UX designer has to minimize the memory load by providing options, objects, actions. Instructions should be visible or easily retrievable. Provide enough context and cues to help them figure out what they have to do next.

● Collaborative work

Collaborative work

Collaboration among team members is pivotal. When you design, you need to work with as many people as possible on their ideas, feedback, thoughts, insights on your work. Depending on the project, the role of team members can be diverse. A team consists of a UX designer, UI designer, visual designer, business analyst, information architects, writers, developers and many other positions depending on the work to be done.

When we talk about the product, good communication between UX designer, UI designer and developer is necessary apart from the insights of other team members which results in the creation of thoughtful, beautiful apps accessible to the users.

● All design problems can not be resolved at once

All design problems can not be resolved at once

Design is an iterative process where designers, developers, educators continually try to improve the design to refine the product. Miller’s Law, another one of the UX laws with practical examples, can be during the design process which involves various steps such as to define, ideate, prototype, a test which needs repetition at every stage to get closer to the answer, solution or discovery.  

For example, products such as Microsoft or Apple use an iterative process. These products regularly work on the new features, and also work on the problems of previous editions. The iterative process is essential as it ensures good user experience by reducing usability issues in the very beginning.

● Error prevention

Error prevention

As per the UX rules, it’s always better to design interfaces which prevent errors before happening. Here, the Pareto Principle can help optimize efforts. It is another one of the UX Laws with examples. Narrow your focus down to essential information, the information that gives the best value to your users. Based on the UX rules, always provide information to support data and make sure that information is easily visible. Any imperative changes must be notified to users before the unexpected actions occur. 

Let us take the example of the automatic check for the entered data in a form. Always provide alerts or reminders for inappropriate data entry to reduce error. 

Final confirmation before deleting – While presenting a feature of delete something always show a confirmation dialogue box so that the user makes sure whether they want to delete it or not as the user have spent ample amount of time and efforts to create it.

Offer Undo – A safety feature is required when a user made a mistake. We must have experienced those moments when we did something wrong, unintentionally and left with no options but to regret. Undo feature can be handy as the user feels safe, secure and confident to play around the various features, as they know it can be fixed later.

● Give informative feedback

Give informative feedback

If you are following the UX rules, then you would know that informative feedback should be given to the users on their actions. According to Doherty Threshold, another one of UX laws with examples talks about shorter feedback time to keep the attention of the users. The system status includes – location within the system, the progress of task completion, the time required for the task to complete, etc. Presenting status information to the users will facilitate their next move and improve operating efficiency. It can be as simple as a button changing to a highlighted state when pressed. Other types of feedbacks which show small changes in the system are- loading, scrolling, animations, clicks, taps, etc. 

For example – In the SWIGGY app, it provides feedback at every stage from the order confirmation, food preparation, delivery time, name of the delivery person, food delivery to payment. Feedback is essential as it helps in creating an excellent experience.

●   Create accessible design

Create accessible design

Accessible design is a design process which meets the need of special people. The design is only useful if it is accessible to the users. Accessibility is all about people. If we start our design process considering the accessibility, we will find them easy to implement. Fitt’s Law, another one of UX laws with practical examples, shows that we can facilitate interactions by carefully sizing and positioning various interactive elements. UX designers place interactive elements closer to users to make the design to be easily accessible enough to them.

For example, people with visual impairment may not be able to read text on your website, but if you have correctly formatted your website text, these people can use screen reading software to hear the words written on your website.

There are many specialist technologies available for your website to be accessible. For example – alternative web browsers, eye tracking applications, braille for the web, screen readers, screen magnifiers, head wand, etc.

Designing for everyone in mind will be another step closer to make UX better.

Principles Of Designing A Memorable User Experience – Quick Recap

While you are on your design, always remember that you are doing it for your audience who may or may not have any prior knowledge of design. So to make it worth their times, you must follow the principles of designing a memorable user experience. These are as follows:

  • Don’t make your audience think
  • Keep upgrading
  • Be open to feedback and constructive criticism
  • Know your audience

Which Advice Would You Give A Designer To Reduce The Information Overload In Their Designs?

While you are designing your website, it is common for you to look out for as much information as possible for your users. You wouldn’t want your users to be in the dark or be confused about anything that is available in your design. But there are certain limitations to it. Too much information about anything in your design will make it boring and less interactive. Nobody wants to read too much and prefer information that is easy to understand and takes less time.

There are a lot of things that you can do to ensure that there is no information overload in your design. Follow the tips below:

  • Keep your design simple and limited.

Remember, less is more. The less information you have on your design, the more will the user understand. You must strike a balance between provided less but effective information and less but no information.

  • Keep it understandable.

Just because you’d be using less words to explain your content doesn’t mean it has to be heavy on vocabulary. Keep your content easy to understand. Nobody should have to open the dictionary to understand your content.

  • Keep it skimmable

Not everyone would want to study deeply about what you are writing in your design. If your content is in points, short and crisp, your audience will be able to skim through it and pass on with the rest.

Basic UX Principles Designers Should Live By

While there are many things (as mentioned above) a designer must know. But out of all, there are some of the most important basic ux principles that a designer should live and breathe by. Check below –

  • It is important to ensure that you follow the information architecture. It means that you plan and organise your content precisely and in a way that leads the consumer to the product and more information.
  • Consistency is the key. You don’t need to revamp the website every time. But it’s important that you update it from time to time. So the user has something new to see and explore every once in a while. This will help engage the audience longer.
  • It is advisable to let the audience have some control over the content as well. Once you have laid down the website and the content, let the user take some charge and make their decisions.


When you apply the UX rules to your product, you will find yourself creating a compelling UX design. Always remember to do a variety of usability testing and use an iterative process. Remember to focus on the business goals of the product over the aesthetics you have about design and UX in general.

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    1 Comment

  1. September 15, 2020

    Hey it’s very useful and informative. Keep up the good work.

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