What Are the UX Design Principles Every Team Should Follow

Great design is essential, but it should never come at the cost of functionality. For the best possible user experience, remember these 9 UX principles.

3 min read

When it comes to UX design, team members often bring a variety of personalities, working styles, and creative ideas to the table. Most teams follow a basic workflow structure, but the stages tend to vary between brands and within departments. 


What works for one team or product might not necessarily work with another. However, with all that diversity, there are some UX design principles everyone should keep in mind.


1. Focus on the user 

The first principle is: Start with thorough research to find out what your users are interested in and what problems they are trying to solve. Find as many details as possible about your users (age, language, culture, and other applicable demographics) and how they will use the product (where, what conditions, which device, etc.). Then you can build a solution that attempts to meet those needs while also being visually appealing.

Test with real users throughout the entire design process. Go beyond your team members because authentic users will behave differently than those who know the product inside-out. They’ll have different goals, mindsets, and challenges. The more you test with users, the more likely you’ll be able to pinpoint emotional states, identify issues, and offer solutions.


2. Establish clear hierarchies for usability

Before you start designing, consider this UX design principle: map out the information your users need to access and decide how you will present it clearly.

First, you’ll need to consider how users will navigate the app or website. Decide, for example, what you will include in the primary and secondary menus. Break content up into manageable and logical “chunks,” rather than trying to pack everything onto one page. Then, think about how you’ll visually guide users through the content on each page, using elements like headings, fonts, and buttons.


3. Create a design system and follow it

Break your product up into components (you can always use Google’s Material Design as a reference, if you’re not sure where to start) and establish a consistent design, style, and color scheme. Gather and document all those style choices in a design system, ideally one that’s integrated with your design tool and therefore easy to pull from. 


4. Create a content design system

Establish your voice, tone, and style, and incorporate rules (such as capitalization rules for buttons versus titles, punctuation in pop-up messages, etc.) into your design system or a separate style guide. Create template messages or a template format for components that come up repeatedly, such as inline error messages or buttons, and record it (or, better yet, use Frontitude to turn those strings of approved copy into Copy Components and use them across your product). This will help writers and anyone else working with copy work consistently without starting from scratch every time or digging to find past decisions. 


5. Make sure you close feedback loops

Don’t let users stare at the screen, wondering if their action was successful. Instead, design to ensure they receive feedback—an icon can light up, the device might vibrate, or the text can change color—when they tap or swipe.


Teaching Textbooks, a popular homeschool math program, uses a pencil to let users know how much longer their download will take.


The 9 UX design principles
Teaching Textbooks use a pencil to inform users about next steps


6. Don’t leave users in the dark—give them information and control

Make sure users understand what to do when they encounter issues. Can they click the back arrow to go back to a previous page? Find a cancel button when they realize they’ve almost done something wrong? Hit undo when they need to correct a mistake?

Remember to offer the chance to confirm before accidentally deleting files or unintentionally making a purchase. The distracted mom with her phone in one hand and an active, button-pressing toddler on her knee won’t be using your app while she sits on hold trying to get a refund.


7. Don’t make UX copy an afterthought. Incorporate it early

If you’ve stopped by here before, this won’t be your first time seeing this: The days of “Lorem ipsum” are over (or numbered, at least). 


Today, companies realize the value of bringing the UX writer on earlier in the process for a more cohesive design and a better user experience. Writers bring a wealth of insights about communicating information and what works well for users, which can prevent issues (and complete redesigns) later on. Bringing the writer on near the beginning of the project also allows for better usability testing in the earlier stages.


8. Design for accessibility

When you create with the intention of making your product accessible to people with disabilities, you likely improve the experience for everyone. For example, captions make videos accessible for users who are deaf and hard of hearing, but they also benefit people who speak other languages and users who turn off the volume. Likewise, designing with high contrast is helpful for individuals with low vision, but it’s also useful for those in low-light situations. 


The 9 UX design principles
Design for accessibility




9. Design for localization

The last but not least UX design principle is: If there’s a chance that your product will undergo localization in the near future or further down the road, planning and designing for localization will prevent a lot of headaches later on. Consider things like text volume on each screen, since some languages tend to take up more space than others, which means that translating into them could require reworking certain screens or components. Similarly, most layouts won’t work equally well in both left-to-right and right-to-left languages. Pay attention to icons and emojis as well, as their meanings may vary across cultures. 


When your design team operates with solid UX design principles, you’ll collaborate successfully, and you’re certain to design products that offer users a user experience they love.

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