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Ten Useful Principles of UX Design

The popularity of a product, app, or website depends on the user experience it offers. You might have conceived a groundbreaking concept — a novel approach to address a real-world business need or to enhance the quality of life; your goal may be to educate, inform, enable, persuade, or entertain; the target market could be tech-savvy professionals or first-time users. But, your idea, however brilliant it may be, won’t pique users’ interest if it’s not complemented by a UX-centric design.

The hallmark of leading UI/UX design companies is innovation –their ability to conjure up disruptive ideas to fulfill constantly changing user expectations. Their success is powered by a few foundational UX principles. Look around, and you’ll find these aspects woven into all the products the world loves.

Let’s now discuss ten of these fundamental design doctrines. Incorporate them in your projects, enrich the user experience, and develop world-class products that are relevant, beneficial, and a joy to use.

  1. Never forget the user
    This is central to achieving UX success and belongs right at the top of the list. Remember: The U in UX represents the user, not you, not the company you work for. The user’s perception is the only thing that matters. Ignore their expectations, and they’ll ignore your product. The design efforts must start with the definition of the persona, a representation of the typical user. What do we know about them? Do we need to factor in their demographic profile? Why do they require your product? What is their exact concern to be addressed? How is the user coping with their needs now?A stunningly beautiful design isn’t enough to sway customers; it has to fulfill their expectations. Successful UI/UX design agencies endeavor to implement what users need, not what their designers want. Put in the effort to analyze how users will interact with each feature of the product and how they will utilize each function. The answers will throw light on whether the proposed design will be suitable and effective.
  2. Respect the hierarchy
    The order of the elements has a bearing on the customer’s actions — and thus, how the product will be used in the real world. A systematic arrangement of options gently guides the user across the sections. There are two hierarchies to be considered: logical and visual. Though both have the same underlying objective, they achieve it using different techniques. The logical hierarchy shows the user how and where to find the information. For example, the sitemap defines the structure of a website, with individual pages delineating each topic. The menu options and cross-linked text in the copy control the user’s navigation.The visual hierarchy is associated with the layout. It suggests making some elements prominent, areas where users’ attention must be directed. For example, deciding where CTA buttons appear and how they’re interspersed with text can maximize the possibility of clicks.
  3. Consistency helps
    When customers first lay their hands on your product, they look for familiar user interfaces. Stick to popular templates, layouts, and icons to put them at ease. UI strategies have evolved over time; there are tried-and-proven methods that work out of the box; when you use them, there’s no need to train users or explain what every button does. A steep learning curve doesn’t augur well for a fulfilling experience. This doesn’t mean there’s no place for innovation; your product should still offer a unique benefit–you should just make it easy for users to leverage its functionality. Don’t force them to wander through endless, obscure, difficult-to-understand options to get there. The user’s journey should be painless yet rewarding. The design guidelines published by Google, Apple, and Microsoft are excellent references.It’s also crucial to ensure compliance with corporate marketing norms. A consistent user experience across all customer touch points boosts the brand value and the company’s image.
  4. Make it accessible
    Making your products usable by people with disabilities is not just a noble thing to do; it’s also a legal requirement in many countries. UI/UX design companies must factor in accessibility needs right at the start of the project, at the conceptualization stage, when ideas are thrown around and debated. Optimizing for accessibility cannot be an afterthought – it should be an integral part of the process. The design needs to eliminate clutter and ambiguity to make a product suitable for users with diverse needs. Ensure the text is legible through the use of appropriate fonts. Enhance readability by optimizing the size and position of text blocks. Choose high-contrast colors and palettes for the background and copy. The touch or clickable controls must be large enough to handle parallax errors and misdirected click attempts.Another noteworthy benefit ensues when products are optimized for accessibility: even regular users find the experience more gratifying. This is because designs are naturally simpler; the interfaces are friendlier, making them suitable for all users.
  5. Pay heed to the context
    Describing the persona provides a basic canvas for the design process. However, our understanding is limited at this stage, as the context is ignored in such uni dimensional approaches. We have inadequate insights to create a design that resonates with the user’s sensibilities. Emotional aspects play a role, and recognizing them will boost the product’s value. Modern UI/UX design agencies apply the principles of “emotional design” to bestow the product with a human-like personality. This involves analyzing the critical aspects that may affect the user and their actions. We can discover the missing contextual factors with a few questions: Does the customer use the product in a particular location? Do they need it on specific occasions? What is their possible emotional state? Are they alone or with people who can influence how the product is used? The answers will help us fine-tune the design by visualizing its use in different environments.
  6. Focus on usability
    Designers are naturally tempted to strive for esthetics. Offering captivating user interfaces is essential, but the product must ultimately be usable. Customers pick your product to address a specific need. The most important consideration is whether your design makes it easy for them. The user flow must lead the customer toward the intended goal without unproductive steps. Diversions and blind alleys distress users. To avoid these, orient the visual design to support the journey with helpful pointers and prompts. The UI should establish and sustain an active, genial “conversation” with the user, hand holding them and helping them avoid mistakes.With UX audit, potentially serious issues can be identified and fixed. Reiterative, rigorous checks at every stage of the design cycle perfect the product. Usability tests ensure a delightful user experience across different operating environments and customer devices.
  7. Keep everything simple
    Leonardo da Vinci is believed to have remarked, “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” The simpler your design, the more welcoming it appears to the customer. You may need to pack a lot of information into a limited space. But this must not end up overwhelming users. Opt for a minimalistic approach that emphasizes the main message — it should still hold the user’s attention without losing the vital details. Opt for icons or explanatory images that condense lengthy paragraphs and abstract ideas into compact, attractive components. Ensure the graphics are not hard to understand to avoid adding more complexity.Provide clear, visible, accessible navigational aids. Not every product requires you to present all the possible options to the user. Menus, if used, must be devoid of clutter caused by multiple levels of nesting – the choices must be lucid and self-explanatory.

    The text must use uncomplicated, jargon-free language. Tweak the copy’s narrative flow, layout, and tone to maximize readability.

  8. Achieve eloquence with typography
    Typography plays a very critical role in visual design. Research proves that the choice of font families, the combination of typefaces, their size, spacing, and relative placement substantially influence readers. Typography reinforces the message with powerful visual tones and cues, besides impacting the readability and the graphic balance. Toward this, choose fonts that will suit the nature of the product, the intended application, and the target user. No, Comic sans is not a good option for a B2B service. Use a minimal number of fonts – a single type will do in most cases (remember the previous rule – keep it simple). If you need to use more fonts, ensure they have complementary features that blend well.The visual typographical layout must be optimized for readability. Limit the number of characters, adjust the width of the text block, and increase the line spacing to help readers focus on the content. Text in all-caps is a bad idea as it’s harder to skim through. Pick font and background colors prudently while keeping accessibility needs in mind.
  9. Recognize user’s efforts
    As part of the process, UI/UX design studios envisage the sequence of actions expected from the customer. The designers then place the required controls in the layout to support the user’s journey through a certain path. As customers try the options, feedback mechanisms help users understand how they can, and more critically, how they must, interact with the controls. Simply put, feedback is aimed at acknowledging the user’s action. For example, a clickable link on a web page may change color when the cursor hovers over it. In broader terms, feedback answers larger questions: what is the logical location of the user in the flow, which event is in progress and when it’s likely to finish, what is to be expected next, and what just got completed.Feedback offers a feeling of reassurance and comfort, advising users if they’re headed in the right direction or if a course correction is required. With relevant and prompt feedback, you can boost the product’s user-friendliness and enhance its appeal.
  10. Let the user explore
    Research shows that when users are entrusted with greater control, their experience improves. This does not mean they get total, unrestricted access. The idea is to facilitate a deeper exploration of the product’s capabilities, to offer users the freedom to make significant changes – but with an option to go back if something goes wrong. If you let the user modify a piece of data, you’ve given them that freedom. Ensure there’s an “undo”, “reset,” or “load default” option, just in case the user makes a mistake. Users feel empowered when their actions are not restricted. They’re also prepared to exercise their choices when they know they can make amends later. Your product may be used by both novices and experienced users. Here, the challenge is to set the boundaries on what each of them can do. In such cases, it’s a good idea to offer a “default” or “recommended” option to help new customers and an “advanced” option for the experts.

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Mathuram N, Lead UX Strategist, Ambian

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