15 Principles of UX Design That Everyone Should Know

In our article, we’ve collected basic UX design principles, and some of them are relevant for UI also. Use the material as the checklist before you start the project or afterward so you can improve your project if needed.

#1 — Think About Real Users Needs

The needs of real users matter, not what you think about it. You may think the design is brilliant, but it means nothing if you don’t belong to a key audience. The very Concept of UX design implies the work of the designer is centered around the “users — product” interaction. It means we should understand if our key audience is satisfied with the product.

UX testing of the product determines if everything is clear for a user while he is using the product, are there any problems with it and why do they occur. During the research, you ask your respondents and carefully watch their actions.

#2 — Explain What Is Going On

People prefer to know what’s going on and what to expect after their actions. So they don’t need to stare at the screen with the breathless expectation: what’s next?! Jacob Nilsen claims that the more predictable the interaction with the product is, the more credence users give to your product. And it leads to a better user experience. Don’t forget about the feedback. It is important.

It is good if users don’t need to guess about the status of the system. They just look at the interface and understand it

The former worker of Apple Bruce Tognazzini

#3 — Follow the Standards With Your Interface

Make your product’s interface look like analogs. Don’t invent the wheel, just follow the patterns. You may think that there is no creativity. So you are right. There is not. But there is care for users. Read our article about the Consistency and Standards principle to understand how it works.

The more users know the interface, the faster they use your service. They don’t have to learn how to use your product, no one wants to waste time. Ben Schneiderman and Jakob Nielsen believe that the easy start and the interface consistency improve user experience. And Bruce Tognazzini adds: “Fashion [and beauty] must not win over usability.”

#4 — Prevent the Mistakes

Sometimes error messages that the user sees when interacting with the product are not the real error messages. Often they just show the user the system he is using:

  • is not flexible enough to do what the user needs
  • is not smart enough to show the borders of user’s actions
  • is arrogant enough to think that the user is a fool and can be pushed around

There are 2 types of mistakes: bloopers and real mistakes

  • bloopers happen through bad lookout and inattention
  • real mistakes happen when the user doesn’t know what to do, and the design is not user-friendly enough

Avoid bloopers

Create limits for actions, and reduce inadvertent maloperation. For instance, you can ‘increase’ the distance between the “Save”, “Delete” and “Leave without saving” buttons.

Prevent mistakes

Don’t make your customers memorize their actions, give them all the needed information and let them call the actions off.

If they can not avoid the mistake, create a clear message about it:

  • tell them what was wrong and use your customers’ language, avoid the complex phrase patterns
  • offer any help

#5 — Reduce Information Load

Sometimes we want to tell more about our product, so we place all the information on our website. Too much information. And our customers need to sort all this information out. But Jakob Nilsen thinks that we should show what needs to be shown at the right time. That is how we reduce the information load: provide information piece by piece.

Every piece of information catches the user’s attention, so we may say that parts compete with each other. And users can miss something important. It doesn’t mean we should critically reduce all the information for the landings or for mobile apps, but we should concentrate on users’ needs and provide only important information. Let it come successively.

#6 — Accessibility

The critical principle of design is accessibility. About 1 billion people on the planet have different kinds of diseases. And seven out of ten users with disabilities leave a website if it’s not available to them. It’s a lot. So develop a design that is also suitable for people with physical limitations. Think about users’ age, cultural specificity, physical limitations, etc.

For instance, use contrasting colors for the content in your layout. It helps visually impaired users to read texts on the screen. Look at Slack.

Test your design to know if it fits users or not. UX testing of the product determines if everything is clear for a user while he is using the product, are there any problems with it and why do they occur. Check our interview about the accessibility principle to learn more:

Accessibility in UX Design
2 implementation stories from senior designers

#7 — Recognition vs Recall

Your users don’t have to remember information from different parts of the interface. It will just annoy them and waste their time. Interface elements should be visible, so:

  • let users recognize things not recall them.
  • help users when it’s needed so they don’t have to memorize.
  • reduce minor information.

#8 — Give Control

To reduce users’ fears about making fatal mistakes, offer them the “emergency door”. When people can undo the actions, it makes them enjoy your product. So they have the feeling that they can’t do wrong, there is always an emergency exit.

#9 — Visual Hierarchy

Create good visual construction, so users can scan the interface. Build the visual construction using different fonts, colors, etc. And always follow the consistency rule.

#10 — Follow the Mental Model Concept

This concept tells us that users think about the world and take actions based on their mental models.

Mental Health Is Great, but What about Mental Model in UX?

Following this concept helps designers to think and act like users do and create intuitive and friendly products.

Visual Sitemap Tool by FlowMapp

#11 — Build Strong IA

Information architecture helps users to “eyeing for the ground” while using your website. So they can easily understand where they are and what to do next. Organize your website in a way that helps users to navigate easily.

What Is Information Architecture in UX and How to Make It?

#12 — User’s Context

Even if the design is stunning and the content is thoughtful, your product can still disappoint users. So keep in mind that context matters. The context principle contains:

  • location
  • emotional state
  • the time when the user works with your product
  • people who surround the user

So keep in mind that the situation when the user is sitting on the bench while navigating your website is not the same context as when he walks and navigates your website.

#13 — Simplicity Is a Must

Simple and effective design is more important than decorations. So keep testing your product. When we talk about iPhones we agree that these products are simple and still effective.

#14 — The Language

Talk to your customers using their language. When your interface “talks” using complex language it just annoys people. Simple language means that your product is friendly, and it is really important. Life itself is complicated, so let’s design our products in a way that helps our users to get what they want when they navigate our websites.


#15 — Create a Personality

Create a personality for your website. It helps people to connect with your product and understand it better. What does your product say to your customers? What human characteristics does it have? Let your product’s personality shine through your visuals, text, colors, IA.


Design principles help us to create strong websites. We can’t go without the theoretical base when we build our products. Read more about design and use good tools to make something really special.

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