Universal Design Principles
In this irregular series we’ll be talking about universal design principles which occur in real life, but most importantly - implementing those principles in UX examples.
Universal design principles are here from the beginning of time, only we, humans, are in a state of revealing them one by one by understanding how the “form” is set. It is not an easy task, but at least we’re not alone in it. At this point we can rely on our ancestors as they already made some dirty job and revealed (documented) some of them for us.
Let’s look at modern theoretical mathematics and experimental physics as an example. Few decades ago we had no idea that all matter is made of strings with hidden dimensions and variety frequencies. Does that mean there’s nothing smaller than strings? Probably not, but this knowledge and insight is vital for creating an universal rule we can apply into day to day life, but more importantly, into our desin which forms our enviroment, economics, behaviour and other fields of our lives.
Design is everywhere. Be it your designed home, your laptop or your bike you travel to work on. So without further ado let’s break down first rule.
This principle applies to many systems, not only digital ones, including economics, management, engineering etc., but for user experience it means, that 80% of actions are caused by 20% of its elements. That stresses out the concept of simplicity. Don’t give the user all options on the screen at once, but create different levels of functionality for differently experienced people using our system. This also brings the “decision making energy” issue into game.
We, humans, have only so much decesion making energy each day. (Varies from person to person). Highly ranked managers values their decision making energy so much, they even wear simple clothes everyday to save some of this energy from choosing between blue socks with flowery pattern and red striped socks. One famous example - Steve Jobs who was wearing the same black turtleneck every single day.
Sometimes we think all those CTA buttons are necessary, but when we take some quantitative testing we find out that most of those buttons are ignored and people use only one or two that helps them completing their task. Now I’m not saying we should get rid of all other buttons and their functions as they might be very valuable for other, more experienced users. The buttons could still be there but with lower priority, hidden in option menu.
Most used tools are always most prominent, because 80% of users are using 20% of all tools. In Sketch App they went even further and gave rectangle the “R” shortcut for superusers.
Everytime you design something, element usage will appear and will create hierarchy of importance. Focus on that and think about it ahead. What will be the most used element/CTA/tool in my system? or in an already existing system, identify those elements and iterate your design to highlight them above others.