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The ultimate goal of the UI designer is to create interfaces that offer an intuitive, easy experience that doesn’t require external assistance to engage with the product. Here are ten usability principles for successful UI design, as established by Jakob Neilsen.
Glad you asked:
Heuristics is another word for processes or methods. Jakob Neilsen is a ‘user advocate’ and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group (which he set up with Dr. Donald A. Norman, who used to be the VP of research at Apple). Nielsen, that’s Dr Neilsen to you, established what is known as the ‘discount usability engineering movement’, which focuses on ‘fast and cheap improvements of user interfaces’.
Nielsen has invented a number of usability methods and evaluation processes, including the following ten guidelines he created in 1990 with colleague Rolf Molich to help develop more intuitive, easy to use and accessible digital interfaces:
To build trust in a product, brand or experience, consistency and standards are required. When users interact with a product it’s important that they are engaging with a consistent tone of voice and use of language throughout each step of their interaction. This also applies to any symbols or icons – keep them consistent for clarity.
An example of this in action are the icons used throughout Microsoft Office suite.
The idea with this principle is to do whatever possible to get the system reflecting the users real world experience.
This can be achieved in a number of ways, including tone of voice and language choice – keeping any tech or marketing jargon out of the picture if it’s not familiar to the target user. Visually, always choose images, illustrations and icons that reflect the user’s real-world experience to ensure that they will easily understand what you are trying to communicate.
Another consideration is the order of components. Keep to a process which is logical to the user group and their life experiences.
Some examples include:
Thoughtful UI design should always attempt to prevent problems for the user. Let’s say a student accidentally deletes their PhD thesis document that they’ve been working on for years.
Give them a safety buffer before the action is finalised so they have the opportunity to confirm, or backtrack from the decision.
A good old pop up message will do the trick!
Well considered UI design should offer suggestions for options a user can select, as opposed to dictating their actions. Ideally, the design should provide as much user freedom as possible, as long as the options are in line with requirements of the system and its functionality.
Let’s also keep in mind that humans change their minds and make mistakes – and provide clear options for users to back track, undo and redo actions as they need. Incorporating these elements will give users control and freedom, both important for quality UI design.
Some examples include:
Ready to put Neilsen’s principles into practice?
UI Designers are in high-demand across all industries with apps and websites playing an integral role for the success of many businesses.
Learning this fast-growing discipline is a fantastic way to future-proof your career. At Academy Xi we offer the following industry-designed training options:
If you have any questions, our experienced team is here to discuss your training options. Speak to a course advisor today and take the first steps in your UI Design journey.