What are Design Principles?
Pre-accepted and trusted visual standards are vital to user acceptance and experience as they encourage adoption of technology systems. This is vital so that users don’t need to learn new or counter intuitive interaction behaviours.
Design principles are widely applicable laws, guidelines, biases and design considerations which designers apply with discretion. Professionals from many disciplines—e.g., behavioural science, sociology, physics and ergonomics—provided the foundation for design principles via their accumulated knowledge and experience.
Why have Design Principles?
In user experience (UX), it’s vital to minimise users’ cognitive loads and decision-making time. Design principles should help designers find ways to improve usability, reduce context switching issues, influence perception, increase appeal, teach users and make effective design decisions in projects. To apply design principles effectively, you need a strong grasp of users’ problems and a good eye for how users will accept your solutions.
Primary Design Principles
Designers use principles such as visibility, findability and learnability to address basic human behaviours and to guide actions.
1. Set information in a logical, natural order
2. Ensure users can easily undo/redo actions
3. Maintain consistent standards so users know what to do next without having to learn new toolsets or menu’s
4. Prevent errors if possible; wherever you can’t do this, warn users before they commit to actions
5. Don’t make users remember information, keep options visible
6. Design with Gestalt principles in mind to make ease of use both a conscious and subconscious experience
7. Provide plain-language, error messages must express how to resolve the issue
8. Don’t interrupt or give users obstacles – make obvious pathways which offer an easy ride
9. Offer few options – don’t hinder users with nice-to-haves; give them needed alternatives instead making clear which is which
10. Reduce distractions – let users perform tasks consecutively, not simultaneously
11. Cluster related tasks and interactions together preferably in a linear flow
12. Have an easy-to-scan visual hierarchy that reflects users’ needs, with commonly used items handily available
13. Do not hide navigation or interactions
14. Show users where they’ve come from and where they’re headed with signposts/cues
15. Provide context – show how everything interconnects
16. Avoid acronyms and jargon as they make the system hard to learn
17. Use defaults wisely, when you offer predetermined, well-considered options, you help minimise users’ decisions and increase efficiency
18. Use “less is more” – make everything count in the design. If functional and aesthetic elements don’t add to the user experience, forget them
19. Be consistent with navigational mechanisms, organisational structure, etc., to make a stable, reliable and predictable design
20. Design for assistive technologies
21. Don’t use Pop ups, they are not accessible to lots of assistive technologies
22. If information needs to be in columns ensure they reflow vertically, so they can be viewed as one large column by assistive technologies
23. Offer easy to search troubleshooting resources