Top 5 UX Design Principles.

by Chelsea Hardwick-Dawson

UX Design

Chelsea Hardwick-Dawson, UX Designer at Cogent, talks about the best practices she follows in UX design.

Whether you are designing a website or an app, it is important to use principles to ensure you are providing the best possible user experience. Design is not simply about making something attractive. It also involves providing users with access to the products and content within them. Essentially, user experience is making sure users have a positive experience.

My top 5 UX Design principles are Scale, Hierarchy, Balance, Contrast and Gestalt Principles.

1. Scale
Scale is about ensuring the size of particular elements are correct and effective for their purpose. For example, making buttons are the right size to click on. Making sure that the main content is bigger than the rest to signify importance and rank. Allowing users to view content easily.

2. Hierarchy
Hierarchy is about understanding the importance of each piece of content. Which content is most important and how is that then portrayed. Is that portrayed through scale/ size or by having it at the top of the page or by colour giving the content emphasis in contrast to the rest. Visual hierarchy is about the most important information coming first and ensuring it guides the users to view those elements first.

3. Balance
Balance is a way of utilising space and having a more aesthetically pleasing look and feel to the site. By utilising the space you’re making sure that the majority of the information is displayed so users don’t have to scroll as much or constantly click to find things. It’s also a technique to drive user engagement especially if the page you’re on is fairly long. Balance is achieved when content is distributed evenly across vertical and horizontal axis.

4. Contrast
Contrast is important for accessibility purposes. Whilst contrast is another way of keeping users engaged in your site. It’s a way to ensure content is legible especially for people with visual deficiencies or disabilities. For example, having two bright colours will not be effective. Whilst bright colours may seem like they stand out to someone who isn’t visually impaired. For someone else who does, these may look very similar. As a tool we use to make sure colours pass WCAG standards. WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

5. Gestalt Principles
Gestalt Principles are a set of principles or laws which designers follow based on user perception. These are as follows:

1. Law of Common Region - When elements are located within a defined boundary, they are perceived as belonging to a group.

2. Law of Proximity - Nearby elements are regarded as belonging to a group.

3. Law of Prägnanz - For shapes that appear complex, users perceive them in the simplest form.

4. Law of Similarity - If elements are similar in style, they will resemble each other no matter where they appear on a page.

5. Law of uniform connectedness - Connected visual elements are perceived as related. A line connecting two elements can be perceived as being connected regardless of how they appear; the line connecting the two will still be perceived as connecting them.

As a UX Designer, I follow a number of principles or laws in my endeavour to create the best possible experiences for users and, therefore, the best possible results for businesses.

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Author: Chelsea Hardwick-Dawson - UX Designer