Great UX/UI design consists of many components. Five main principles play a role in the creation of designs. When used together, these elements create UX design that is easy to follow and engaging while increasing user attraction and attention.

Relevance

Relevance is about seeing if a user is interested in a digital product in the first place. There are two main types of relevance: market relevance and feature relevance. Market relevance describes when a completely new product is invented and solves a problem or disrupts the current market. Feature relevance is when a product gains a new feature that increases its productivity. Both types are influenced by UX design.

Relevance can be determined by watching users’ interaction with navigation, page layout as well as functionality of a page. This can provide a designer with information on the typical user pathway so they can design something that makes sense to the user. Relevance also helps designers make sure all of the design elements don’t cause confusion. UX design plays a role in product-market fit. This is the idea that the target audience for a company is buying a product often enough to sustain the company and produce growth and profitability. Relevant UX design leads to good product-market fit.

Relevance is vital to the overall look and feel of a site. If the colors or design of a site do not match the product, it may be confusing for users. For example, on some e-commerce sites, if the products are modeled in ways that are hard to view or purchase, it becomes challenging for the user to know what they are buying and that may negatively affect conversions. Many customers express their unwillingness to shop online at these stores because of their images, and therefore they lose customers. There is potential for this to occur with any site if the UX/UI design is not relevant to the product or service. One way to remedy this situation is to include clear, lone images of products to allow consumers to fully understand the product they are viewing in an easy-to-navigate user journey.

Empathy

Empathy in UX design might be one of the most essential principles. To understand what a user is looking for, the designer must be able to put themselves in the user’s shoes. This means identifying the problem a user is facing and the challenges that come with it—then taking this problem into consideration when designing a solution. Empathy allows a designer to work to improve a user’s experience. It can be easy for a designer to express empathy and state the challenges one might face when using a digital product. It is more challenging but crucial for a designer to express empathy and take steps to alleviate challenges for people with all abilities. 

Designers might also use empathy to understand what a user wants from a digital product. It is normal to believe that someone might think and feel the same as we do, but this is not always the case. When using empathy, developers can focus on the needs of real users alongside the use of data about the average user. Data allows a designer to see how a user interacts with a website and then utilize empathy to clear up any pain points. Data can also be collected through contextual inquiries which allows researchers to conduct interviews with users directly. In many ways, empathy begins with analyzing data.

Website Design Elements

Familiarity

This principle is a crucial aspect in making UX/UI design invisible. It might seem counterintuitive to talk about design as being invisible – most people assume designs should stand out, right? In some cases, yes, designs should stand out and attract users. In other cases, design should simply direct users to where they need to go without being noticed and not be in the way of user tasks. Microinteractions are a great example of invisible designs. These include cues such as “Item Downloaded” that let users know an action has been completed. Microinteractions are so common in modern applications and websites that many users only notice them when they are absent—highlighting how impactful microinteractions are for navigation and familiarity. Also included in this principle are the ideas of memorability, learnability, and meeting user needs.

The best design occurs when the user does not have to think when using a site because it is so straightforward. There are certain aspects that tend to be in the same places on all websites. One example is the placement of the shopping cart to check-out on an e-commerce websites or applications. It is almost always placed in the top right corner of the screen. This allows users to find it quickly simply based on the user’s familiarity with other websites and their past experiences on e-commerce websites. Following the principle of familiarity can simplify the UX design and allow users to get what they want quickly, which is the ultimate goal.

Usability

Usability of a site means that designers and developers carefully ensure that all possible pain points of a website are considered. This can include that  all links are working correctly and no error pages occur. Allowing for things like customizable controls or blocking pop-ups can make the user experience easier and promote user retention. This is an important UX design principle because it relieves users’ cognitive overload. Sites and applications should focus on function and practicality, enhancing how a user achieves a task.

When someone comes to a site, they have a goal in mind. If they can not reach their destination due to links that lead to the wrong place or error pages that pop up in place of contact information, cognitive friction will occur. This will lead to a decrease in user retention and the spread of negative information about your site or app. To prevent this, testing for usability early and often is critical. Testing provides analytics of how users are interacting with a site as well as user preferences and trends. These crucial factors give designers the information they need to design specifically for their target audience.

Accessibility

All UX/UI design needs to be accessible to as many people as possible. Designers should make an effort to accommodate all possible users. This can include a wide range of people with many different abilities. Ensuring colors are appropriate for those with color blindness, having the option for screen readers for those that are completely blind, and providing large enough text for good visibility are just a few. People with different abilities will visit your site, and you want to ensure everyone feels comfortable and welcome.

Empathy plays a large role in accessibility. Once a designer has put themselves in a user’s shoes, they are better able to understand the challenges they face. This gives them a better idea of how to design UX to fit their needs. Accessibility testing is one way designers can ensure their designs are available for all users to access. 

Elevating UX/UI Design

Examining these five principles and applying them to UX design will bring the designs to the next level. Including these ideas in a checklist while designing will ensure the best results.