A Walk Down the Basic Principles of UX Design

Nadine Kahaleh , May 30 2017

Picture this - you just stepped into an Italian restaurant and ordered the Chef’s favorite – a sizzling wood-fired classic pizza. You impatiently await for your hearty meal. You’re thinking fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and basil. What could go wrong? But surprise, surprise! The waiter places a pineapple, prawns, and weird sauce pizza on your table. It kind of ruined the whole Italian Pizza experience for you, right?

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User Experience (UX) design resembles simple and predictable Italian pizza. As articulated by the man behind the word itself, Professor Donald Norman, a cognitive science researcher “the design of everyday things is in great danger of becoming the design of superfluous, overloaded, unnecessary things.” There’s no shame in meeting people’s expectations!

There is no room for bad first impressions in UX. It’s all about finding and understanding what the audience needs, and how they behave and think. So, if one is ordering pizza at an Italian restaurant, they’d expect a classic Italian pizza with premium Italian ingredients. Good UX is exactly like a well-cooked and familiar Italian Pizza.

Given that UX is the sum of a person’s emotions and behaviors when interacting with a product, system, or service, creating great user experiences comes highly recommended. In other words, people matter, so their experience matters. But to be able to craft great UX designs, one should be aware of basic principles – let’s start by learning first positions, before getting into fancy pirouettes. 

Keep the Audience Happy
Read closely what Google and Amazon have to say about UX:

  • Google: Focus on the user, and all else will follow.
  • Amazon: I am congenitally customer-focused.

Start by taking off the UX practitioner’s hat and place yourself in the user’s seat.  Once you’ve acknowledged that the user is not like you, you’d have adopted the correct design mindset. This is what human-centered design is all about – bring about them smiley faces!

You want to be on you audience’s good side? You’ve got to give them the special treatment, it will earn you some serious points; keep in mind that your designs should be clear, utile, familiar, trustworthy, and delightful

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Give the Audience Pointers
Whatever your product is, you need to establish a healthy information scent. Remember, your users don’t like to feel lost; give them pointers - signposts and cues. Your layout has to create an overall meaningful experience; hence, your users need to understand the services offered by your product without having to bang their heads to the wall!

One thing you should keep in mind in that context, the design should inform the users about where they stand in their overall experience at all times. 

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Always Cut to the Chase
Don’t clutter your flow with irrelevant features and elements. Adopt a cut-to-the-chase design methodology and reduce the design to the necessary fundamentals. Make sure everything designed has a purpose, exclude the paradox of choices, and limit your audience to the task at hand; otherwise it will be lost in the shuffle.

Facebook’s core principles are to keep the design “clean” and “useful”. As stated by the company itself: “A minimal, well-lit space encourages participations […] we purged unnecessary clicks and wasted space.”

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Don’t Be a Stranger
Give your audience what they expect, there’s your secret to an ocean of conversions. New frameworks and flashy plugins might look nice, but do they really sell?

Keep in mind that users don’t like to make an effort to understand what they’re doing. So, don’t be a stranger! User familiar patterns, icons, and presentational styles.

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Why So Serious?
No, UX design is not just about usability; on the contrary, it covers more than that! If usability helps the users accomplish their desired goal, then aesthetics sweeps them off their feet. Only a seductive and playful interface can do that!

Showing character in your app, website, or brand allows your audience to identify and empathize with you. People want to connect with real people, not robots or machines. So, allow your users to forget that you’re offering them a product. 

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Don’t Forget Content’s Crown
As the father of advertising, David Ogilvy, once said “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her.”

Putting your design into context will pave the road for a smooth UX design delivery. Communicate how everything interrelates. Don’t be shady!

As a UX designer, you should adopt a content-first approach; when you’re stepping into design’s waters, make sure to do so with proto-content. So, when you’re knocking out the wireframes or prototype, see if you can get some “lorem ipsum” in there to validate your thinking. 

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