Designing has a lot to do with a creative mindset, but also about following design principles that guarantee that the goal of a particular design will be achieved.
And when it’s about product design or UX/UI design, it’s even more important to follow these design principles, because the main intention of a website or app is to make the user feel comfortable enough to spend more time there.
If the site or app is simply unappealing or too difficult to understand, the user will leave. And that’s a decision that takes less than 3 seconds.
Here I will explain to you the 7 basic design principles you should be following at all times to guarantee a successful UX/UI.
What Are The Design Principles?
Imagine this: you are looking for a site that sells car batteries, you don’t really care which site, you just need a specific type of battery. So you google “buy car batteries online” and you click on the first site.
The site’s home page looks great but it’s not organized enough for you to find the battery you need. The menu is not visible enough, and the search bar is not at the top of the page, and on top of that, it has already shown you three pop-ups.
What do you do? Probably leave the site immediately and never come back right? Because, after all, there are a million sites just like that one for you to choose from.
This is a great example of what we are meant to avoid when designing a website or app, and that’s why design principles are so important.
Essentially speaking, design principles are guidelines and considerations that designs should apply in their work to make the design simpler and easy to understand for the viewer.
Why are design principles so important? Because they are the result of years of research and tests executed not only by designers, but also psychologists, physics, and sociologists. They help us predict the user’s/viewer’s behavior or reaction, and it helps us to understand easily what needs to be changed in the design for a better outcome.
Which Are The Design Principles?
There’s still no consensus on how many design principles are, so I’m going to mention the 7 basic design principles I apply regularly.
Please understand that design principles are not different when applied to UX design, since its solid purpose is to minimize the user’s decision-making process.
What exactly is the main goal of your design? What do you want the user to notice first? The emphasis principle is about highlighting the most important part of the design, it doesn’t really matter where on the screen the emphasis is, as long as it stands out from the rest of the information.
That’s why it’s necessary to build a mental map (or a real one if you have the time) of the exact order things should be organized. Emphasis can be given through fonts, size of the elements, colors, separation, and so on.
Emphasis without balance can be chaos, so paying attention to the form and stability of the design can be crucial.
It’s not only about maintaining the same size of the elements on the graphic, it’s more about distributing them symmetrically or asymmetrically to make it coherent for the viewer.
You probably haven’t thought of this, but the proximity of the elements in a graphic, app, or site is extremely important. Remember that when we make the user think instead of behaving intuitively on our site, we are wasting time and reducing the chances of making a sale.
You need to build a visual connection between the elements, for example contact buttons are usually close to the about us section because they are related, and the search bar and the shopping cart are usually close as well for the same reason.
Quite related to balance and empathy, hierarchy refers to giving the proper importance to all the elements within a design. It is easily understood in terms of titles and headings.
However, you should also consider the hierarchy of contact info, benefits of the product or service, logos, and so on.
Another way to emphasize a design is the contrast, basically speaking, contrast is about opposing two elements to highlight one of them. For example: having a dark background and using white fonts.
This is an important principle because it helps to guide the user’s eyes around the design. Using contrast smartly will make the user feel more comfortable, which will help them to take easy decisions during the navigation time.
Sometimes strengthening the design means repeating it. Repetition, which can become either great news or a boring task for many UX designers, is important because makes your site recognizable.
Meaning, even if you focus your design on Instagram ads or a flyer, it will match the site or app you are promoting, making people remember it by how it looks.
7 White space
The way I see it, emphasis along with white space are the most important design principles any UX/UI designer, and even product designers should consider.
The negative space is exactly that, white space necessary in the design to keep it simple and to avoid the viewer feeling exhausted or confused. It promotes hierarchy and organization as well.
Let’s create progress together.
Reasons to Follow the Design Principles
Now that you the 7 basic design principles for UX/UI designers, here’s why they should be part of all of your UX/UI designs and projects:
- Prevent as many errors as possible to avoid the visitor feel overwhelmed or confused
- Make them remember you
- Not interrupting the user’s journey through the site
- Instead, guiding them to where you want them to go
- Provide context
- Create emotions
- Make your site look and feel professional and trustable
- Making good first impressions
- Not to make the user think, but to feel like they “already know the site”
- Promote shopping behaviors
- Ensure they will come back for more
In my opinion, following the design principles is an imperative task that all UX/UI designers should follow.
It is true, however, that some designers guide themselves more on their experience and the knowledge they have about their audience than by the principles, but I still think it's important to at least to consider them.
Our job as UX/UI designers is to make visibility, findability, and learnability as easy as possible, it will offer the user a feeling of control, which improves the overall online experience on your site or app.
If you need more information about design principles or a UX/UI designer that understands and applies them, contact me now and let me help you boost your website.