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5 simple UX principles to design

5 simple UX principles to design

Few things in life are constant: death, taxes, and strangers asking “So what do you do?” within a minute of a handshake. As a UX designer, I’ve had a lot of practice over the years trying to nail down my answer. Before you dig into details, you have to settle on basics: font(s). Through exploration, comparison, research, and often — for large companies — making a font themselves, every display cascades from and depends on this choice.

It’s my job to be inside a user’s brain. I need to look at design from the mindspace of a user (actually, lots of users) and squash potential problems or confusion.

“It’s the UX designer’s job to be inside a user’s brain.”

This never-ending process requires keeping UX present before, during, and after the build is complete. It’s always a challenge to act with the user in mind — influences like due dates and bottom lines sometimes cloud the way.

To help keep your product on the right path, I’ve assembled a list of 5 UX principles I use to guide my design process. Understanding how and why to make UX decisions goes a long way in explaining things to others on the team, which goes an even longer way in getting said UX decisions into the final product.

1. Digestibility

Good design is easy to digest — the brain shouldn’t have to expend a ton of energy to figure out what the heck it’s looking at. With any luck, people will just “get it” without needing a 6-section explanation. This goes beyond clear, easy-to-read copy. People sometimes need guidance to make decisions, so a menu with a list of 12 inline items may seem daunting. Organizing with some hierarchy (size, color, icons) can help highlight the more common choices, which allows someone to find what they’re looking for faster.

Another good example of digestible design is the new user guide, often presented as staggered tips that a person can process one at a time. But imagine the opposite, hitting a brand-new user with a whole stack of instructions, removed from the context of the product. No one likes a confusing surprise.

Consider all the decisions you’re asking someone to make with your product to get to the bottom of the funnel. The brain has a limited amount of cognitive resources during the day — using them up needlessly is rude.

2. Clarity

Good design is honest. Aside from understanding the words in your value prop, you need the user to understand the actual value. Being coy or unclear about your product isn’t going to win any fans.

Related to value, pricing is an area where clarity is everything. Users aren’t going to click “Buy now” if they can’t figure out what you’re asking them to pay. While shady “free trials” that switch to auto-billing might be the norm, I doubt they’re winning any popularity contests.

This may sound cheesy, but a good plan is to simply follow the Golden Rule. Explain things like you’d want them explained to you. Make things as clear as you can. You know what you’d expect out of the products you choose to use, so don’t you dare build something less.

3. Trust

Good design is easy to trust. Before asking someone to complete an action, make every effort to help them understand why the task is needed. Being honest and clear in explanations builds trust at each step, leading to increasingly easier conversions down the funnel.

Consider Uber (and Lyft, depending on which way you swing). They’ve made catching a ride so easy that a 100-year-old industry is now in chaos. The app saves your payment info, which you might not feel comfortable exchanging with a stranger, and facilitates a trustworthy, painless transaction.

Removing doubt will create a growingly invisible experience. As decisions require less and less resources, using the product becomes easier and more enjoyable.

Take the user’s side

Building thoughtful products with clear intentions shows that you care, makes choices more comfortable, and leads to a better overall experience. And that’s important, because it’s been found that 68% of users giving up did so because they think you don’t care about them (which we know isn’t true!).

It’s easy to judge the user experience of your own product as long as you’re honest with yourself. Walk a mile in someone’s shoes, considering each action in your product from the brainspace of a tired, weary person. Would you click next?

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