My 10 UX design commandments

Paint of the 10 commandments

I’ve recently been preparing for a UX design principles knowledge share at work and therefore have been spent the last week or so thinking long and hard about what principles I use to help guide the UX design work that I do. OK so ‘commandments’ probably isn’t the right word (God certainly didn’t deliver his UX advice to me whilst I was on the top of some mountain) but that aside here are my 10 UX design principles.

  1. Walk a mile in another man’s shoes

    Try to see the world through a user’s eyes. What would Bob do at this point? Would Cheryl understand what she needs to do? Techniques such as personas, cognitive walkthroughs and usability testing can help everyone involved in a project to walk a mile in a user’s shoes.

  2. Remember that users are real people too

    When designing think about real people, rather than generic ‘users’. Real people have things like goals, motivations and emotional needs that ‘user X’ simply doesn’t have. Get to know your users (Ok – you don’t have to invite them out for dinner or anything) and ensure that everyone knows who they are and what they are like.

  3. Don’t be afraid to KISS (keep it simple, stupid)

    Less is often more. Keep things as simple as they can be and strip out any thing that is ‘noise’. As good old Albert Einstein said, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler”.

  4. Consider the ‘bigger picture’

    Think about the context in which a design is going to be used. Where will it be used? By who? For what? A design doesn’t exist in a vacuum and as such shouldn’t be created in a vacuum (unless of course you’re carrying out UX design in space).

  5. Don’t make me think

    An easy one (Steve Krug has written a whole book on the premise) – don’t make people think any more than they have to. People don’t like thinking – it makes their head hurt.

  6. Don’t re-invent the wheel

    Take a look at designs already out there and learn from them. If a standard and design pattern exists, use it. Although re-inventing the wheel can be fun, it’s probably best left for ‘Art’ projects.

  7. The earlier the feedback, the better

    Test early and test often. Got a UI design in mind – do some paper prototyping. Got a site structure in mind – do some card sorting.The earlier you get feedback (from users, stakeholders – hell anyone who’s opinion you value) the sooner you can test your design and start improving it.

  8. Keep it real (homie)

    Always design with real people, real scenarios and real data in mind. Inventing imaginary scenarios of use might be fun – but you’ll soon learn the truth once ‘real’ users get their hands on your design.

  9. Accept that you’ll never get it right first time around

    Good gamblers will spread their bets to enhance their odds of winning. Follow their advice and avoid putting all your eggs in one basket because you’ll rarely if ever get a design right first time around.

  10. Don’t run before you can walk

    Would you start shooting a movie without a script, or at least an idea of how the story goes (OK – maybe if you’re an Art house director)? Similarly don’t start designing pages and UI elements until you know how things will fit together – otherwise you’ll end up with an incoherent mess (like the last Pirates of the Caribbean Film!).