The Right Mix

UX Design Principles Check List

Photo / Dreamstime

17 May 2022 / Christa Nuijs

UX Design is all the rage, but what does it actually mean and how can you start improving the user experience of your app, website or service delivery without having to study for 6 months or hiring a specialist?

Here’s a Check List you can use to evaluate the UX design of your product. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg and a deep dive into user-testing and prototyping is recommended for a greater chance of success, but this list will give you a sneak peek into the most common UX design principles.

1. You don’t have too many features

When it comes to good design, “what if” is not a good question to ask. It will lead to unnecessary features which will most likely only benefit a few fringe cases of your target audience. Too many features will only confuse most of your users.

There is even a proper law for this, Hick’s Law: Too many options will increase the time a user takes to make a decision. And that’s something you want to avoid… Because in that increased decision-making time, they could very well choose the option to just bail out and discontinue the action.

2. You design for a specific use, for a specific audience

Tied in closely with the danger of features, is how you determine your use cases. Another “law” you can apply here is the Paradox of Specificity – the more specific the use for a certain audience is, the more likely it will cover the needs of other users too. A famous example is the roller trolley. This small hand luggage suitcase was designed as an overnight bag for aviation personal only. Needless to say, it has worked its way into the mainstream effortlessly. And as you are reading this article on the internet, it is worth noting that the World Wide Web was designed initially purely as a way for academics and scientist to share research.

3. You apply an appropriate tone of voice

The voice of your app or site design is imperative. To make sure you are striking the right balance, check out our article on heuristics and apply these rules of thumb!

4. You make use of conventions

There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to good design. Green is go, red is pay attention, and everyone knows what these buttons mean:

Especially when it comes to controls, to reinvent conventional design is a) a waste of time, b) a waste of money and c) most likely leads to a loss of users, as you will need to re-educate them on what they thought they knew. If it has no added value to your product other than to “be different” it is best to be different in other key areas. Not in the conventions that have been tried and tested.

I encountered this recently with my favourite body lotion. For some reason, this large luxury chain decided to redesign the bottle top. I can no longer twist and open the full cap, instead it only opens the cover at the top. It doesn’t add anything, and it confuses the action that I have taken for most of my life when opening a bottle. Closing it is not easy with lotioned hands either and even causes spillage. I am not amused and now get annoyed every morning when I apply the lotion.

5. Your user understands how to use the controls and what happens next.

Your users don’t like guessing. They want to understand and perceive what a design element does and be able to predict what will happen next. If there is a big red button, they understand that they can press that and if that red button says “buy now”, the user knows immediately what will happen next. There is no need to be enigmatic and ambiguous in your design. Like with conventions, put your attention to differentiate yourself in other places, not where the user expects a certain process.

6. Your feedback is relevant, timely and easy to understand

We all like to be kept informed about the process and if we are doing it right. So put your user’s mind at ease, let them know that their action has been registered and what is happening next or tell them if their action was incorrect and why. Feedback is your platform’s true voice, so make sure it is clear, relevant and to the point. Ideally, keep them informed throughout the process and not at the end only. Inline validation makes for a swift and smooth flow. Nothing is as annoying as completing a form and action only to get a response right at the end that somewhere in step 3 you had made a mistake and need to scroll all the way back.

Good design should not be noticeable. Good design should feel natural, easy, understandable, and comfortable. However, users will spot bad design immediately, as it deviates from what they expect the process to be. But with the above points, you can avoid those pitfalls!