The Golden Rules of User Interface Design

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The user interface (UI) is a critical part of any software product. When it’s done well, users don’t even notice it. When it’s done poorly, users can’t get past it to efficiently use a product. To increase the chances of success when creating user interfaces, most designers follow interface design principles. Interface design principles represent high-level concepts that are used to guide software design. In this article, I’ll share a few fundamental principles.

8 Golden Rules of User Interface Design is a “rule” that needs to be considered in making interface design. This Golden Rule was proposed by Ben Schneiderman on August 21, 1947, in his book entitled Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction.

1. Strive for consistency

Designing “consistent interfaces” means using the same design patterns and the same sequences of actions for similar situations. This includes, but isn’t limited to, the right use of color, typography, and terminology in prompt screens, commands, and menus throughout your user journey.

Remember: a consistent interface will allow your users to complete their tasks and goals much more easily.

2. Enable Frequent Users to Use Shortcuts

Speaking of using UI rules as shortcuts, your users will benefit from shortcuts as well, especially if they need to complete the same tasks often.

Expert users might find the following features helpful:

  • Abbreviations
  • Function keys
  • Hidden commands
  • Macro facilities

Read more: The Fundamentals of UX and UI Design

3. Offer informative feedback

For every user action, there should be interface feedback. For frequent and minor actions, the response can be modest, while for infrequent and major actions, the response should be more substantial. Visual presentation of the objects of interest provides a convenient environment for showing changes explicitly.

4. Design dialogs to yield closure

Sequences of actions should be organized into groups with a beginning, middle, and end. Informative feedback at the completion of a group of actions gives users the satisfaction of accomplishment, a sense of relief, the signal to drop contingency plans from their minds, and an indicator to prepare for the next group of actions. For example, e-commerce websites move users from selecting products to the checkout, ending with a clear confirmation page that completes the transaction.

5. Offer Simple Error Handling

A good interface should be designed to avoid errors as much as possible. But when errors do happen, your system needs to make it easy for the user to understand the issue and know how to solve it. Simple ways to handle errors include displaying clear error notifications along with descriptive hints to solve the problem.

As much as possible, design the system so the user cannot make a serious error. If an error is made, the system should be able to detect the error and offer a simple, comprehensive mechanism for handling the error.

Error Prevention:

  • Error prevention over error correction
  • Automatic detection of errors
  • Clear error notifications
  • Hints for solving the problem

6. Permit easy reversal of actions

This feature relieves anxiety since users know that errors can be undone, and encourages exploration of unfamiliar options. The units of reversibility may be a single action, a data-entry task, or a complete group of actions, such as entry of a name-address block.

7. Keep users in control

Experienced users strongly desire the sense that they are in charge of the interface and that the interface responds to their actions. They don’t want surprises or changes in familiar behavior, and they are annoyed by tedious data-entry sequences, difficulty in obtaining necessary information, and inability to produce their desired result.

Read more: Top References for User Interface Design

8. Reduce short-term memory load

Humans’ limited capacity for information processing in short-term memory (the rule of thumb is that people can remember “seven plus or minus two chunks” of information) requires that designers avoid interfaces in which users must remember information from one display and then use that information on another display. It means that cellphones should not require reentry of phone numbers, website locations should remain visible, and lengthy forms should be compacted to fit a single display.

These underlying principles must be interpreted, refined, and extended for each environment. They have their limitations, but they provide a good starting point for mobile, desktop, and web designers. The principles presented in the ensuing sections focus on increasing users’ productivity by providing simplified data-entry procedures, comprehensible displays, and rapid informative feedback to increase feelings of competence, mastery, and control over the system.

The goal for UI designers is to produce user-friendly interfaces: interfaces that encourage exploration without fear of negative consequences. Without any doubt interfaces of the future will be more intuitive, enticing, predictable, and forgiving, but most principles of UI design listed in this article will surely be applicable. 8 These Golden Rules from Schneider ensure a good design but can ease the burden experienced by users in using applications that we make.

Sagara Technology can help you develop beautiful and functional interfaces for Website and Mobile Applications. At Sagara Technology we develop attractive, engaging, usable interface design that focuses on solving usability problems and producing outstanding results.


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