Let’s talk about UX Rules…

Road signs one says Rule and the other says Exception

No rules?

What is the purpose of rules in UX Design?

  1. Rules are there to help designers avoid mistakes and ‘known unknowns’. Rules provide guidelines in UX that codify an understanding of patterns of human behavior (yes, users have problems with hamburger menus on mobile). See an example of a better way to do hamburger menus for mobile below.
mobile app with articles and a blue circular menu lower left with lines through it- a more visible menu
Example: Making a hamburger menu pop out on mobile can help users find menu options.
Personalize cookies UI showing a green toggle with a checkmark to reinforce selected state.
Example: To fend off yellow/green perceived as mustard in colorblindness, UX designers must add a symbol with the offending color to reinforce its meaning — without just the use of color.
Pie menu- a novel interface, previously used in tablet experiences but rarely in a web application.
Mahatma Gandhi photo- bald Indian man in a wrap cloth with penny-rim glasses

“Know the rules well so you can break them effectively”. — Gandhi

A Word about violating the rules

  • Design Guideline: A generally accepted theory or idea about how to approach a design issue. eg. Visual Hierarchy is a Graphic Design concept that also supports usability which says to prioritize tasks and your call to action.
  • Usability Heuristic: A set of rules or ‘rules of thumb’ for violating usability issues. Originally developed by usability pioneers Nielsen/Molich and refined again by Nielsen, Gerhardt-Powals, and others — the heuristics describe known user/ usability requirements.
  • Industry Standard. An industry-standard comes from an independent, recognized body that governs the standard. ISO for Human-Centered Design and WCAG (W3.org) come to mind.
  • Legal requirements. A law issued by a court within a country or governing region (EU). Laws dictate rules of engagement followed by governments, corporations, and others.
Frank Spillers CEO Experience Dynamics headshot



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