16 Principles of UI & UX Design
These 16 principles of UI and UX design should guide every web designer through the process of building a website.
UI and UX design are the two key components that form the process of web design.
Whilst UI stands for User Interface and refers to the elements that a user see’s and interacts with, such as colours, fonts and buttons, UX stands for User Experience and covers the journey and experience a user has with a website.
Both UI and UX design have guiding principles that designers follow in order to create the very best end products for users.
To help you learn more about them, the KIJO experts have put their heads together to list the 16 principles of UI and UX design that guide all of our web design projects.
- #1 Meet Users Needs
- #2 Keep Track of Progress
- #3 Create a Hierarchy
- #4 Context is Key
- #5 Keep Things Consistent
- #6 Always Remember Accessibility
- #7 Keep Language Simple
- #8 Sometimes Less is More
- #9 Prioritise Usability
- #10 Typography Choices are Important
- #11 Always Provide Feedback
- #12 Include Personality
- #13 Give Control to the User…
- #14 … And Allow Them to Make Mistakes
- #15 Understand Visual Grammar
- #16 Create a Narrative
- Final Thoughts
#1 Meet Users Needs
Both UX and UI designs are user-centric which is why one of the key principles of UX and UI design is to meet the needs of your users.
Your end design should always meet users needs, allowing them to find information they’re looking for and carry out their desired actions with ease.
Focusing on the user is the most important principle of UX design and should be at the core of every design decision you make. Your users’ needs should guide you through the design process.
#2 Keep Track of Progress
The web design process has many moving parts and most websites are designed by a team of experts, from those focusing on creating wireframes and UX designs to the UI designers who decide on visual elements such as colours and fonts.
It’s important therefore to know where you’re up to in the process which is why tracking your progress is an important UI and UX design principle to follow.
You’ll need to use various softwares and skills throughout the build of a website so keeping track of where things are up to will help everything run smoothly.
It’s also a good way of avoiding wasted time. After all there’s no point spending hours deciding on the colour of buttons if the UX designers haven’t figured out if the finished website will even feature them.
#3 Create a Hierarchy
Having a clear hierarchy is a principle of UX design that shouldn’t be overlooked. Creating a hierarchy before you begin building out the website allows you to ensure you won’t be forced to backtrack and make too many changes later on.
Generally speaking there are two hierarchies you need to create for your website. The first is your hierarchy of content. This is where you decide where every single piece of content will sit within the finished website.
You need to figure out the best way to organise your content and information. Usually this will be done via a primary and secondary menu system that leads users to different web pages and content.
A visual hierarchy is also a key UI design principle that you shouldn’t ignore. This is where you determine how you will display the information on a page, ensuring the most important content is given the most prominence.
#4 Context is Key
Thinking back to the importance of putting the user at the centre of your designs, understanding the context is a key part of this.
You need to take into account the context in which a user will be accessing and interacting with your website. Are they using a mobile device or a desktop? Will they likely be on-the-go or at home? How much time will they have available? How do they normally behave online? Who/what usually influences them?
There’s a lot to think about but all of these questions will help you to understand the user’s behaviour and put your website into context. For example, if you determine that your target user is busy and in a rush, slow-loading content or an extensive navigational structure should be avoided.
#5 Keep Things Consistent
It can be tempting to go against the grain when designing web design and certainly sometimes, it can pay to be different.
The reality is however that users are looking for similar experiences when they are online. The human brain quickly gets used to how things are done meaning when a user lands on a website, even if it’s one they have never visited before, they expect some level of consistency.
Things such as having the menu at the top of the page, scrolling down to find more content and clicking on buttons to take them to a new page can all create a consistent experience.
Creating consistency and familiarity is a UX design principle that users expect when they visit your website.
#6 Always Remember Accessibility
A UX and UI design principle that only continues to grow in importance is remembering accessibility in web designs.
It is the responsibility of UX and UI web designers to ensure that their web designs can be accessed by everyone, regardless of device or ability.
This means you need to remove any obstacles that may hinder a user’s ability to access your website. This can be anything from ensuring the website functions properly on a mobile device to choosing colours and fonts that are legible to visually impaired users.
#7 Keep Language Simple
It’s not just the design of your website that should follow UX and UI design principles, your content should too.
Simple language and easy to digest chunks of information are two key ways to ensure you are creating a great user experience. Nobody wants to land on a webpage and be met with endless content.
Online users often have much shorter attention spans than those accessing information offline so keeping language simple ensures you will keep users engaged and interested in your content, improving the UX of your website.
#8 Sometimes Less is More
When designing a website, particularly the visual UI elements, it can be common to want to add as much as possible.
Having too much clutter on a webpage however can be overwhelming which is why realising that sometimes less is more is one of the most beneficial UI design principles.
Stripping back the visual elements will also help to create a better user experience, making this a key UX design principle too.
Creating streamlined and simple experiences for users allows you to place more value on your content and service offering.
#9 Prioritise Usability
Both UX and UI design are focused on the user, whilst UX prioritises the experience and journey a user takes, UI centres around the elements a user see’s and interacts with.
One of the key principles of UX design therefore is focusing on and prioritising usability.
Your finished website should be easy and enjoyable to use. Users should be able to navigate your website and find the information they need quickly.
It’s all well and good having a website that looks great but if it doesn’t function correctly then it’s almost useless. Usability therefore should be at the heart of every design decision you make.
#10 Typography Choices are Important
When it comes to UI design, typography choices play an important role. The typography and font you use has a major impact in how users interpret your content and experience your website.
This UI design principle therefore is important to remember.
Selecting typography that is easy to read is the first step. Whilst a fancy font may look nice, if you can’t actually read the words it’s best to be avoided.
Secondly you need to think about the tone and mood your chosen typography portrays. For example a harsh, bold font creates a more serious tone than a more informal swooping script style.
#11 Always Provide Feedback
One principle of UX design that shouldn’t be overlooked is the importance of feedback.
Your website should be engaging and interactive which means when a user completes an action such as clicking on a link or CTA box, they should receive some form of feedback.
This feedback can be anything from taking them to the next page to a pop-up that confirms a submission.
Feedback is a way of creating a relationship between you and your users and building communication streams.
#12 Include Personality
Remembering to include personality in your web design is another great tip and design principle to think about.
Browsing online can often feel cold and detached compared to communicating in person therefore injecting personality into your website can help to replicate human connections and boost the relationship with your users.
Think about the personality behind your brand and include this within elements of your design. For example, if you have a fun, chatty and informal brand personality, bright colours and animated icons will reflect this.
#13 Give Control to the User…
As a user navigates around your website, they should feel like they are in control of their journey and experience.
Whilst you will likely include signposts and gentle prompts, a user shouldn’t feel forced into taking a specific action.
Instead, you should design a website that gives control to the user. This includes elements such as giving them the choice of which page to move to next and the ability to scroll back to the top of a page once they’ve reached the bottom.
You may be guiding them, but a user should feel like they get to choose how their journey pans out.
#14 … And Allow Them to Make Mistakes
If you’re going to give users control then you’re also going to need to allow them to make mistakes which is what makes confirmation an important UX design principle.
Confirmations ensure that users don’t take an action they don’t want to. For example, before placing an order, your website should include a confirmation button or pop-up for the user to click.
Similarly there should be easy ways to undo common actions such as form submissions. If you have a multi-page form on your website, users should be given the chance to go back if they input incorrect information.
#15 Understand Visual Grammar
Visual grammar refers to the elements that make up the visual structure of your website such as images, videos and icons.
Whilst a user may not know what visual grammar is, they should be able to recognise it within your website.
Everything from the colour palette you choose to the iconography, patterns and fonts speak to users.
Visual elements all tie together to convey a message and tone to users, this is the visual grammar of your website and is one of the UI design principles that we recommend implementing within your designs.
#16 Create a Narrative
Last but certainly not least, the final UX and UI design principle for you to understand is creating a narrative.
One of the key principles of UX and UI design, telling a story with your website design helps to encourage user interaction and conversions.
From the journey a user takes through your website to how content is displayed on a page, various elements can impact the narrative your website portrays.
When creating a narrative on your website it’s important to also think about the pace and rhythm with which it’s revealed to users. Slow-loading web pages or a long journey can become boring whilst bombarding users with information too quickly can be overwhelming.
When designing any website, whether it’s an ecommerce store, a simple one-pager or a blog style content system, these UX and UI design principles should guide you through your design decisions.
Here at KIJO we have experts in UX and UI design who understand and use these very principles day in, day out to create bespoke websites for clients that strike the perfect balance between looking great and performing well.
Posted on by Jordan Thompson