UX design is a creative and ever-changing field that welcomes fresh ideas from new practitioners, but there are some foundational UX design principles that every new designer should understand.
The Interaction Design Foundation defines UX principles as “fundamental points of advice for making easy-to-use, pleasurable designs as we select, create and organize elements and features in our work.” Design principles, therefore, form the heart and soul of UX design. Consequently, as new designers, it is essential that you learn these guidelines and consider aligning your design practice with them.
Let’s walk through these user experience design principles so that you’re prepared to launch a fulfilling career.
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1. Meet the users’ needs
The foremost of all UX design principles is to focus on users throughout the design process. The term user experience itself makes it clear that your work needs to center on improving your users’ experience with your product or service.
Thus, you need to learn what users are looking for in a design (through user testing and other methods). It is possible that a design may seem brilliant to you, but remember that you are not the user.
2. Know where you are in the design process
For new UX designers who are only just testing the internship waters or are in junior positions, the design process can be overwhelming. A lot of work goes into designing, so knowing your place in the process is significant in several ways.
Firstly, you’ll need to use different tools for each phase, as demonstrated in the graph below. Secondly, knowing your design phase also helps you ask the right questions for user research. For instance, there’s is no point testing the color of a button if you are still figuring out where it should be placed in the design.
3. Have a clear hierarchy
It is easy to take hierarchy for granted, but it is a UX principle that ensures smooth navigation throughout a design. There are two chief hierarchies that you need to note. First comes the hierarchy that is associated with how content or information is organized throughout the design.
For example, when you open a website or app, you will note the navigation bar that includes the main sections. This is the primary hierarchy. When you click or hover over this bar, you will note further sub-categories of content open up, taking you deeper into the app or site. These are the secondary menus.
There also is a visual hierarchy, which allows users to navigate easily within a page or section. Therefore, to create an easy flowing design for users, you need to place the important content prominently.
The WooCommerce site uses a large font and weight for the main message so that it stands out. The design also uses a different colored button to put emphasis on “Get Started” and encourage action.
4. Keep it consistent
Users expect products to share some similarities with other products they regularly use. This makes it easy for them to become familiar with the new product without any additional learning costs. It may sound a little counterintuitive, but the more familiar your design is to others, the faster users can learn to use it, which enhances their experience.
Such consistency also makes the design process easier for the designers, as they don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they take on a new project.
5. Understand accessibility
An increasingly important rule from among the UX design basics is designing with accessibility in mind. In simple words, a designer’s responsibility is to make sure that his design is usable for as many people as possible. This means that your design needs to be accessible to people with disabilities too.
To this end, you should remove obstacles from the design layout for problem-free navigation. For example, you can use contrasting colors for the text on the background. This helps visually impaired users (as well as users in low-light settings) read the content on the screen more easily.