Incorporating Five Laws of UX into Your Digital Interface Designs
Good user experience plays a vital role in every lucrative website, interface, or application. Understanding how users’ minds work and the limitations of human memory is key to designing an interface with a great UX. It’s all about psychology and how our brains function when it comes to digesting information.
When people hear the term “design” or “designer,” they tend to think of the visual aesthetic of an interface. However, user experience design goes beyond the visual elements and focuses on the functional workability of a product or interface. If a website looks beautiful but does not work well—is hard to navigate, confusing to use, etcetera—well, then it isn’t of much use to anyone.
The five laws of UX are essentially the best practice principles UX designers should consider when building user interfaces and websites.
Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.
Common UX design patterns and conventions come into play when putting Jakob’s Law into effect. This law isn’t arguing for all websites to be identical; it’s simply saying that digital interfaces and products should take advantage of common UX conventions. This may include components such as navigation, headers, hero sections and other common digital interface elements.
Familiarity is an incredibly important facet of user experience. Familiarity helps users know immediately upon viewing where to click, what is clickable, and what is interactive. You don’t want users to have to learn how to use your digital product prior to interacting with it. This would cause unnecessary friction and adds to the overall cognitive load of the user.
As an example, take an ecommerce shopping website, such as Etsy, into account. Conforming to users’ expectations when it comes to buying products online keeps the important elements of the website in focus. A user should easily be able to view a product, add it to their cart, and checkout, all in a sequence of steps that is intuitive and obvious in comparison to other ecommerce websites. In doing so, you are taking advantage of common UX design conventions, making it easy for the user to buy a product on your ecommerce website. It should be an easy and painless process.
When implementing Jakob’s Law into designs, consider the following:
- Humans find comfort in familiar experiences and interactions.
- Leverage existing patterns and conventions.
- Create visual cues so users understand and know how to quickly use the presented choices.
Law of Proximity
Objects that are near, or proximate to each other, tend to be grouped together.
The Law of Proximity is based on a Gestalt Law, which has to do with how the human eye interprets connections between visual elements. When it comes to UX design, there is a fine line: you should not group too many items into too many groups because the design will become noisy and crowded.
Integrating the Law of Proximity into your designs isn’t hard to do as long as you don’t overdo it, as mentioned above. Simply group relevant elements together and separate unrelated elements. Using white space is crucial when organizing these groups and components. It should also be noted that experiments have proven that proximity is more powerful than other features, such as color or shape. If elements or objects are close together, the user will see them as related, even if they appear different visually. Proximity can be used on a variety of elements in a website design or application design, including menus and forms, headers and footers, and everything in between.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind regarding the Law of Proximity:
- Use varying amounts of white space to either separate or unite elements.
- Keep in mind that the grouping of elements may change in responsive designs.
- Don’t group too many items into too many groups.
The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices.
Hick’s Law revolves around choices. So many options and choices! Think back to the last time you were navigating Hulu or Netflix in search of a TV show to watch. You might have spent more time trying to find something to watch than you did viewing the TV show you decided on.
User experience designers combine Hick’s Law with other design principles to make it work effectively in their designs. Simplifying the decision-making process for users is at the core of this law. But you must be careful not to trim down the complexity of choices to the point of abstraction.
Here are a few tips to help successfully implement Hick’s Law into your designs:
- Secondary and less vital options should be separated from essential options.
- Group menu items into high-level or parent categories.
- Break down complex processes, such as long forms, into specific parts or chunks to make them more user-friendly.
The time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target.
Another way to word Fitts’ Law is: the time it takes for someone to interact with an object depends on how far they are from the object and the size of the object. We can see Fitts’ Law in action all around us. For instance, on your keyboard the largest button is the space bar. This is because the space bar is one of the most important keys. In your car, the brake pedal is larger and closer to your foot than the accelerator pedal, making driving safer overall.
Fitts’ Law, in its most simplistic form, is a predictive model for the speed of human movement and interaction. The farther your cursor is from a button, and the smaller the button target, the longer it will take to engage with it. Thinking of Fitts’ Law this way makes it very straightforward. On your website, if you want the user to take a specific action, you can bring focus to that element by making it larger and clearer to interact with. However, it’s important not to go overboard when it comes to applying Fitts’ Law.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when implementing Fitts’ Law into designs:
- Don’t group items too close together or they will be difficult to access.
- Don’t make buttons too large; use balance and visual hierarchy to avoid overdoing it.
The average person can only keep 7 (plus or minus 2) items in their working memory.
Miller’s Law focuses on the magic number seven. Applying Miller’s Law to your interface designs is crucial so you do not overwhelm your users and their limited short-term memory.
For instance, if your website has many pages, you will want to organize them in a logical way from a hierarchical sense so that they can easily be grouped together in a menu structure. You may even want to divide the pages between two separate menus—such as a main menu and a utility menu—as large menus can cause increased cognitive load for the end-user, depending on the number of menu items included. Breaking your content into easily digestible “chunks” will help users navigate your website or application easier without causing too much strain on their working memory.
“Chunking” plays a crucial role when it comes to Miller’s Law. For instance, have you ever tried to memorize a phone number? Did you try to memorize the entire number in one go? More than likely, you used chunking: breaking the entire phone number into smaller chunks.
As an example, 1552014356 becomes 155 201 43 56.
Our brains will automatically try to simplify complex info by organizing it into chunks. This is a way of maximizing our limited memory. So, in theory, organizing content into smaller chunks of information will make it easier for users to digest and interact with it.
A few key notes to keep in mind when implementing Miller’s Law:
- Organize content into groups of 5-9 items maximum to avoid memory overload.
- The amount of information displayed will motivate users to either engage with the website or abandon it.
- Embrace chunking to avoid information overload.
As you can see, a lot of factors come into play when creating an interface with superior user experience. Taking these laws and principles into account will help you design a better interface or website. Do you recognize other examples of good user experience in everyday items you use? For more reading about additional UX laws, visit lawsofux.com.
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