UX is difficult to master, and there is no doubt that good UX takes years of practice, trial and error. However, there is an easy solution to improve your site’s UX by using 10 principles widely accepted as the top usability guidelines. These guidelines were created by the top UX experts Nielsen Norman Group, and they are called Usability Heuristics, which means they are rules of thumb anyone can use to evaluate and improve user interfaces.
You can use these 10 heuristics when you create new user interfaces, or evaluate what can be improved in existing ones. Let’s take a look at them.
The 10 Usability Heuristics
- Visibility of system status. Give the user real-time updates about what’s happening in the website. Are you uploading a file? Are you searching for info? Let the user know and they will trust your site more.
- Match between the system and the real world. Speak in simple and human language, don’t use jargon. Don’t assume the user understands what you mean. Use conventions from the real world in your site.
- User control and freedom. The user should be able to backtrack on your site, or change their mind. Give users flexibility in the way they use your site or software.
- Consistency and standards. Use widely used web guidelines and standards, don’t reinvent the wheel. Use consistent terminology and tone of voice across your site.
- Error prevention. Design your website in a way that does not let errors happen. Think about the errors that can happen upfront and anticipate them.
- Recognition rather than recall. Users don’t remember what’s on your website, or how thinks work. Make it easy for them by making frequent actions easy to find.
- Flexibility and efficiency of use. Your website will be used by both basic and advanced users, so your design should cater for both. Foresee a simple version and a more advanced version with shortcuts and advanced functions.
- Aesthetic and minimalist design. Don’t clutter your website with information that’s not needed; inspect every element in your site and ask yourself if it really adds value.
- Error recovery. Errors will happen, so make sure the user can understand why the error happened and how they can fix it. Never blame the user.
- Help and documentation. Even though you should design an easy to use website, users may still have questions. Research the users’s information needs and foresee answers.
How to apply the principles
Print these 10 principles, paste them in your wall and go through this checklist to see if your website is ‘UX proof’.
In my Skillshare class ‘UX for non-designers: 10 easy ways to improve the usability of your website/app‘, I explain those concepts in more detail with real-life examples. The class is free to watch even if you don’t have a Skillshare account. Join me in the class to practice the principles and get free feedback on your UX review 🙂
Source: NNG, 10 usability heuristics