What are some good UX principles? UX Question #64

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Rita from St. Louis, Missouri, asks: What are some good UX principles?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Rita. This is UX Question number 64 and I am Ben Judy.

What are some good UX principles? Well, a simple web search will yield countless articles with lists of user experience principles. Some are broader in nature, and some are more specific.

An example of a very broad list of UX principles is from Peter Morville who years ago published the ‘user experience honeycomb.’ These are seven, high-level categories of UX concerns. Peter says a good experience must be useful, usable, desirable, valuable, findable, credible, and accessible.

That’s a really good starting point for evaluating UX design. Even more basic, Bill Scott popularized the phrase, “looks good, works well.” I can’t think of a more compact set of UX principles than that. Does your design look good? Does it work well? If so, it’s probably a good experience!

There are more specific and contextually relevant lists of UX principles. One that I’ve found useful is “8 Design Guidelines for Complex Applications” by Kate Kaplan at Nielsen Norman Group. These principles support the needs of highly trained users in specialized domains. Principles include, “Coordinate Transition Among Multiple Tools and Workspaces,” and “Help users track actions and thought processes.” These are more likely to be applicable to designing B2B applications—go back to episode 41 where I explored the differences between B2B and B2C.

As I said back in episode 26 (”What is a good UX design process?”) principles matter more than process. As designers, we often focus a lot on process frameworks. What are the steps to take in executing a UX design project? But I strongly believe that process is a means to an end. A good process will empower you to apply good principles and guidelines. If the way you are doing design work gets in the way of applying good design principles, abandon that process.

I think it’s very important to become familiar with general UX principles like Jacob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics.

I also find it helpful to establish a set of UX principles for each product or design project. You’ll often have specific user needs or design goals, and writing down a narrow set of principles can help keep you and your team focused and unified in your approach to solution design.

If you want to further explore UX principles, two good websites are DesignPrinciplesFTW.com and LawsOfUX.com. Links are in the description. These will both provide you with curated lists of UX principles that you can consider and apply.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: how can I design for diversity?

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