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Chris Jones |

A fanned-out set of color swatches displaying a variety of colors, arranged in a gradient from warm shades to cool tones, placed on a blue surface.

The concept of User Experience design existed long before computers and the internet. The fundamentals of it lie in human psychology and how we interact with the world around us in general. Many of the rules and principles we apply to designing great UX and UI experiences are based on tried and tested studies from as far back as the 30’s.

Below you’ll find some of the more important things to remember when designing great user experiences.

1. Hicks Law

In 1952 British and American psychologists William Edmund and Ray Hyman set out to examine the relationship between the number of stimuli present and an individual’s reaction time to any given stimulus. Unsurprisingly the more stimuli to choose from, the longer it takes the user to make a decision on what to do/ interact with.

To avoid this, break down more complicated tasks into small steps and leave the most complex tasks until the end, this will help reduce cognitive load. If you can’t reduce the number of tasks, then make the content easy to digest.

2. Aesthetic Usability Effect

Originally studied when creating User Interfaces for ATM machines in 1995. This study revealed that users rate aesthetically pleasing UI as having greater ease of use.

This response means users are more likely to tolerate minor errors they might encounter as a pleasing design will create a more positive response and convince users that the design works.

3. Cognitive Load

Speaking of cognitive load, this in itself is an important part of UX/UI design. Your memory has a limited capacity, so it’s best not to overload it with information, as that will increase the chances of giving up on a task. Good ways to prevent this are to avoid the use of repetitive information and use familiar visual content that users will recognise easily and logically arrange the information.

4. Accessibility 

You can make something look as aesthetically pleasing as you like, but if it’s not accessible then it’s not going to work. Your designs should be accessible and usable for everyone. Visual impairments and other disabilities that might affect the user’s ability to use computers or mobile devices need to be taken into account. Even simple things like making sure your text contrasts well with the background can make a huge difference.

5. Curiosity Gap

A user’s knowledge gap can be used to your advantage. Help fill the gap with the knowledge they need to take the next steps. Whilst doing so, make the user feel as safe and confident as possible, a good way to do this is to use short concise positive language in your copy.

6. Serial Position Effect

People have a tendency to remember the first and last things in a series. When creating a list or series of tasks that users need to undertake, place the least important information in the middle. This rule can even be used when designing UI, positioning the key interactions on the far left and right of screens.

7. Miller’s Law

Whilst not set in stone, the average user can only store 7 (give or take a couple) items in their working memory. When dealing with large amounts of information, try breaking it up into smaller chunks, however, don’t use 7 as a way to justify unnecessary limitations.

8. Investment Loops

Our brains are always on the lookout for rewards. Take advantage of users’ habit-forming nature by taking steps to trigger rewards on specific actions. For example, reward someone for making a purchase, or for customer referrals.

9. Storytelling

Empathy in design is important, it helps create strong connections and meaningful reactions to your design/product. People naturally give meaning to observations, so using storytelling to convey information to users will help create a stronger bond with your product or service. Even using conflict that is overcome by something you have to offer will help boost user retention.

10. Isolation Effect

When a variety of choices or objects are presented, people are most likely to pick or remember the one that differs from the rest the most. Utilise this effect by making important information visually stand out. Just don’t fall into the trap of making multiple elements you feel are important compete with each other for attention and cause a visually chaotic design.

There are many more things to consider when designing great UX, and maybe we’ll touch on those in the future, but that’s ten key points we felt all UX and UI designers should know. If you have any questions, get in touch with us and let our expert team help you!

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