10 Important UX Design Laws for Designers to Know (With examples)
User experience (UX) design has become a critical component of modern digital products and services. Good UX design focuses on creating enjoyable and intuitive experiences for users.
To achieve this, designers need to follow certain UX laws to ensure their designs are effective, efficient, and satisfying for users. In this blog, we'll explore some of the most important UX laws and examples.
Hick's Law states that the time it takes for a user to decide increases with the number of options available to them. The more options, the longer it takes to decide, which can lead to frustration and ultimately, decision paralysis. This law is particularly relevant in e-commerce, where users are bombarded with numerous options to choose from. To make it easier for users to make decisions, designers should limit the number of options presented at any given time.
Amazon is a great example of a company that employs Hick's Law. When a user searches for a product on Amazon, they are presented with a limited number of options, usually the top five results. This makes it easier for users to make a decision and reduces decision fatigue. If any website has too many navigation options, it can be overwhelming for the user, who may abandon the site.
Google's search bar is a great example of Hick's Law in action. Instead of presenting users with a long list of options, Google provides a simple search bar where users can enter their queries. Google's algorithm then takes care of presenting the most relevant options based on the user's search terms.
Dropbox's sign-up process only asks for a user's name, email address, and password, instead of overwhelming them with multiple forms and options.
Fitts's Law states that the time required to move a pointing device (such as a mouse) to a target area is a function of the distance to the target and the size of the target. This law is particularly relevant in interface design, where designers need to ensure that the target areas (such as buttons) are large enough and placed in easily accessible locations.
The Google search bar is a great example of Fitts's Law in action. The search bar is located in the center of the screen, and it's large enough to accommodate most search queries. This makes it easy for users to access the search bar and quickly perform a search.
Apple's iPhone home button is another great example of Fitts's Law in action. The home button is large and centrally located, making it easy for users to locate and press. Additionally, the button provides haptic feedback, which enhances the user experience by providing a tactile response to the user's actions.
According to Jakob's Law, users spend most of their time on other websites and expect that their sites will function similarly. This means that designers should not deviate too far from established design patterns and conventions, as users may find it difficult to navigate.
The product page on Amazon is an excellent example of Jakob's Law in action. The page has a consistent layout and design that users have come to expect from e-commerce websites. Additionally, Amazon's product page provides detailed product information, reviews, and related products, which are all common features of e-commerce websites.
The navigation menu on a website should be located in the upper left or upper right corner of the screen, as this is where users expect to find it. Deviating from this convention may confuse users and make it difficult for them to navigate the site.
Users expect a shopping cart icon to be in the top right corner of an e-commerce site, and if it is located elsewhere, it can lead to confusion.
Microsoft has maintained a consistent look and feel across all its Office applications, making it easy for users to switch between applications without having to learn a new interface.
Slack's user interface follows a similar layout to other messaging applications, making it easy for users to navigate and use.
An email marketing tool may use common email conventions, such as a "compose" button or a "sent" folder, to make the user feel more at home.
Miller's Law states that the average person can only keep seven (plus or minus two) items in their working memory at any given time. This means that designers should limit the number of options presented to users to prevent overload and decision fatigue.
Apple's iOS settings menu is a great example of Miller's Law in action. The menu is broken down into several submenus, each containing a limited number of options. This makes it easy for users to find the option they need without feeling overwhelmed. Trello's task management system is designed around the idea of breaking down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. Users can create cards for individual tasks and organize them into lists. This approach makes it easier for users to remember what they need to do and focus on completing one task at a time.
The online retailer ASOS breaks down their checkout process into five simple steps, making it easy for users to remember and follow.
Twitter platform, which limits users to 280 characters per tweet, forces them to communicate their ideas concisely.
Gestalt's Law of Closure
Gestalt's Law of Closure states that the human brain tends to perceive incomplete shapes as complete objects. This means that designers can use this law to their advantage by creating designs that suggest a complete shape, even if some parts are missing.
The FedEx logo is a great example of Gestalt's Law of Closure in action. The logo features a hidden arrow between the "E" and "x," which suggests motion and completion. This makes the logo more memorable and effective.
The law states that people tend to perceive incomplete shapes as complete, and a designer can use this principle to create a logo or icon with incomplete shapes to create a memorable image.
Slack uses the principle of similarity to group related messages together, making it easy for users to quickly find the information they need.
Here are a few more UX laws:
The Law of Proximity
The Law of Proximity states that objects that are close together are perceived as related. This law is essential for designers to know because it can be used to create visual hierarchies and organize information.
For example, if a designer wants to group related information, they can place it close to one another to indicate that they are related.
The Law of Similarity
The Law of Similarity states that objects that are similar in appearance are perceived as related. This law is essential for designers to know because it can be used to create visual hierarchies and organize information.
For example, a designer can use the same color or shape to indicate that objects are related.
Nielsen's heuristics are a set of design principles that help designers identify and solve usability problems. These principles include the visibility of system status, the match between the system and the real world, and user control and freedom. In the context of health dashboards, designers should use these principles to ensure their designs are intuitive and user-friendly.
For example, a dashboard for tracking mental health might display a progress bar to show the user how far they've come in achieving their goals.
The Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is a guideline for composition in photography and design. It states that an image should be divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and important elements should be placed along those lines or at their intersections. This principle can be applied to user interface design to create interfaces that are visually balanced and engaging.
An example is the mobile game Candy Crush. The game board is divided into a grid of squares, and the candies are placed at the intersections of those squares, making the game visually appealing and engaging.
Pareto Principle: 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
The Pareto Principle is all about focusing on the most important features and elements of an application or tool. The designers can apply the Pareto Principle by focusing on the 20% of features that will deliver 80% of the value to users.
For example, Microsoft Teams is focused on the core functions users need, such as chat, video calls, and file sharing, for easy interaction and collaboration.
So how many times have you told yourself, "I have to use this UX law to make this design better?"
It's easy to see those UX laws as common sense now that we design kind of by default, but when you're a beginner, it might not be so obvious. Laws may not create great designers, but I think it's a good idea to know them well and practice them repeatedly, so the knowledge will always be linked to their practical use.
I have seen great designers break those design patterns, but they know what they are doing. As long as it's solving the problem at the end of the day, we may not always explicitly apply UX laws in our design process, but having a foundational understanding of these principles can enhance our ability to communicate and defend our design decisions effectively.
What other UX laws do you think are essential for designers to know? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!