10 Interaction Design Rules You Must Never Break
UI Design best practices. In life, there are certain rules you must never break. If you do there will be hell to pay. In User Interface design there are also rules to live by. They are called heuristics or principles. These are repeatable patterns that have been tested over time and help users navigate an interface. A well-designed interface will always contemplate the following principles. A not so well designed interface will surely lack one or more of these principles. You’re a UI designer so why would you break one of these rules and cause your users such headache? This list was adapted from Norman Neilsen’s 10 Heuristics for User Interface design. The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time. Visibility of system status Always give your users appropriate information, hints and context so they know where they are within the system at all times. This allows the user to feel in control and know what to do next. Did the item get added to the cart? Did the edit get saved? How long will this process take? What is the status of my order? What is happening right now? Always be answering questions like these for users and never keep them guessing or in the dark. The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order. Match between system and real world Use familiar words and language. Don’t overcomplicate the wording for the user. The meaning of a word or an icon on the screen should be clear and understandable for your target audience. People also come with mental models and experiences that allow them to interpret patterns. One of the greatest advancements in technology came about when the Graphical User Interface was introduced. Before the GUI the computer screen was limited to obscure textual commands to memorize and repeat every time you wanted to execute an action. Then everything changed. The screen displayed little images of folders and files and a hand cursor. These were all visual symbols people understood instantly. No need to explain because it referenced real-world mental models. Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Consistency and standards There are two types of consistency: internal and external. Internal consistency refers to the patterns within your site or app. This can be simple like keeping links the same color on all pages or using the same icon for the same concept, say HOME, on every screen. External consistency refers to conventions used in other software and systems that most people use, such as a shopping cart. Most people are familiar with how a shopping cart works. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. If you do you might make it harder for your users to learn how your shopping cart works. Keep it consistent and save users unnecessary confusion. Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo. User control and freedom Always provide a way out. » Read More
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