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5 simple UX principles to guide your product design – Medium

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Few things in life are constant: death, taxes, and strangers asking “So what do you do?” within a minute of a handshake.

As a UX designer, I’ve had a lot of practice over the years trying to nail down my answer.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

It’s my job to be inside a user’s brain. I need to look at design from the mindspace of a user (actually, lots of users) and squash potential problems or confusion.

“It’s the UX designer’s job to be inside a user’s brain.”

This never-ending process requires keeping UX present before, during, and after the build is complete. It’s always a challenge to act with the user in mind — influences like due dates and bottom lines sometimes cloud the way.

To help keep your product on the right path, I’ve assembled a list of 5 UX principles I use to guide my design process. Understanding how and why to make UX decisions goes a long way in explaining things to others on the team, which goes an even longer way in getting said UX decisions into the final product.

1. Digestibility

Digestibility

Good design is easy to digest — the brain shouldn’t have to expend a ton of energy to figure out what the heck it’s looking at. With any luck, people will just “get it” without needing a 6-section explanation.

This goes beyond clear, easy-to-read copy. People sometimes need guidance to make decisions, so a menu with a list of 12 inline items may seem daunting. Organizing with some hierarchy (size, color, icons) can help highlight the more common choices, which allows someone to find what they’re looking for faster.

Another good example of digestible design is the new user guide, often presented as staggered tips that a person can process one at a time. But imagine the opposite, hitting a brand-new user with a whole stack of instructions, removed from the context of the product. No one likes a confusing surprise.

“Consider all the decisions you’re asking someone to make with your product to get to the bottom of the funnel.”
Consider all the decisions you’re asking someone to make with your product to get to the bottom of the funnel. The brain has a limited amount of cognitive resources during the day — using them up needlessly is rude.

2. Clarity

Good design is honest. Aside from understanding the words in your value prop, you need the user to understand the actual value. Being coy or unclear about your product isn’t going to win any fans.

Related to value, pricing is an area where clarity is everything. Users aren’t going to click “Buy now” if they can’t figure out what you’re asking them to pay. While shady “free trials” that switch to auto-billing might be the norm, I doubt they’re winning any popularity contests.

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