Design

Mastering UX: 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design

  • Kamil Tatol

  • Apr 24, 2023

  • 2 min read

  • Apr 24, 2023

  • 2 min read

Kamil Tatol, CEO at Flying Bisons.

Kamil Tatol

  • Apr 24, 2023

  • 2 min read

Every UX designer has them in their little finger. The 10 usability heuristics for user interface design are like the 10 commandments of user-friendly design. Let’s dive in!

User Experience (UX) design is all about creating products that are easy and enjoyable to use. While many different factors contribute to a positive user experience, there are ten key heuristics that designers can use to guide their decision-making and ensure that their designs are as user-friendly as possible. In this article, we will go through each of these ten heuristics and provide examples of how they can be applied in practice.

#1 Visibility of System Status

Users should always be able to see what is happening within a system or application. This can be achieved through the use of progress bars, loading indicators, and other visual cues that indicate to the user that the system is working as expected. For example, when a user uploads a file to Dropbox, they see a progress bar that indicates how much longer the upload will take. Another good example is a success or so-called “thank you” screen after a completed purchase or transfer is made in the banking app.

#2 Match Between System and the Real World

Designs should be intuitive and easy for users to understand. This means using familiar language and concepts that match the real world. For example, an e-commerce site should use a shopping cart icon to represent adding items to their online shopping cart, which is a direct link to the real world.

#3 User Control and Freedom

Users should always feel like they have control over the system or application they are using. This means providing clear and easy-to-use navigation and undo/redo options. For example, Google Docs allows users to undo and redo changes using keyboard shortcuts or menu options.

#4 Consistency and Standards

Designers should aim for consistency in their designs and follow established design patterns and standards. This means using similar colours, typography, and layout across all pages and screens. For example, all buttons (of the same type) on a website should be the same colour and shape. There’s no need to make things different just for the sake of it.

#5 Error Prevention

Preventing errors before they occur is much easier than fixing them after the fact. Designers should use techniques such as confirmation messages and constraints to prevent errors from happening in the first place. For example, an e-commerce site should always display a summary of all filled data before submitting an order. Another example might be a model that shows when you accidentally click on the “Cancel” button with the question, “Do you really want to cancel this action?”.

#6 Recognition Rather Than Recall

To enhance usability, designers should prioritise recognition over recall. This means that users should not be required to remember information from one part of an app or website to another. Instead, designers should provide clear and intuitive navigation with descriptive labels that help users understand where they are and what they can do.

#7 Flexibility and Efficiency of Use

Designs should be flexible enough to accommodate both novice and expert users. This means providing shortcuts and customisation options for expert users while still keeping the interface simple enough for novices. For example, Photoshop allows users to customise their keyboard shortcuts and save them for future use. All products should be designed with various use cases in mind, i.e. for beginners and pro-users.

#8 Aesthetic and Minimalist Design

Designs should be visually appealing and easy on the eyes. This means using a clean and minimalist design that is free of clutter and distractions. For example, the Apple website is known for its simple and elegant design. The form should follow function.

#9 Help Users Recognise, Diagnose, and Recover from Errors

Even with error prevention techniques in place, errors can still occur. Designers should provide clear and easy-to-understand error messages that help users diagnose and recover from errors. For example, if a user enters an incorrect password on a website, they should be presented with a message (inline validation) that clearly explains what went wrong and how they can fix it. We explained the power of a successful error message in our article "What is microcopy?".

#10 Help and Documentation

While designs should be intuitive enough to use without any instruction, designers should still provide help and documentation for users who need it. This could include tooltips, help pages, or even live chat support. For example, WordPress provides extensive documentation and a community forum where users can get help with their websites.

How to take advantage of 10 UX heuristics?

In conclusion, UX heuristics are a valuable tool for designers to ensure their designs are user-friendly, efficient, and effective. By keeping these heuristics in mind during the design process, designers can create interfaces that are intuitive, easy to use, and enjoyable for the user.

Summary

The success of any digital product or service depends largely on how well it is designed. UX heuristics provide designers with a set of guidelines to create designs that are intuitive, efficient, and effective. By applying these heuristics, designers can create interfaces that resonate with users, improving user experience, customer satisfaction, and conversions.

Need someone to create a one-of-a-kind design?

To take your UX design to the next level, check out our UX services page. We specialise in creating user-centred designs that not only look great but also provide a seamless user experience. And yes, obviously, we always design these products with 10 UX heuristics (and a lot more) in mind!

Kamil Tatol, CEO at Flying Bisons.

Kamil Tatol

CEO

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