When people hear the word “design,” they may be inclined to think of a solely creative role in which a person is tasked with creating something beautiful. But UX design recognizes that aesthetically pleasing designs don’t necessarily make for a more usable interface.
What lies beneath a successful experience is the careful attention paid to understanding how the user will think. Such Perceive and act as they move through their journey.
And good user research combined with an understanding of essential laws is key to being a good UX designer.
For a deeper understanding of what causes users to do what they do. UX designers often rely on a collection of widely known psychology laws, or standards, that help determine their design choices. This article will focus on five essential laws that will help elevate your design prowess to create winning experiences for your users..
1. Hick’s Law
These days it seems like users have so many of them. That is why understanding Hick’s Law is vital to UX design. Hick’s Law states that users spend more time making a decision based on the number and complexity of choices.
The more choices you present your users with, the longer it will take them to reach a decision.
Remember the last time you visit a streaming platform, and try to find a movie to watch. Sometimes it takes more time to find a movie rather than watch it, all because of the number of options.
To successfully implement Hick’s Law into your design, try these tips:
- Break up long processes into steps. Each step should have a clear purpose for the user to follow.
- Categorize choices to make them easier to search for and identify.
- Use progressive disclosure to reveal additional information when needed.
2. Fitts’ Law
Drawing from Fitts’ Law, UX designers can begin to predict human behavior and movement. Fitts’ Law says that “the time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target.”
Fast movements + small targets results in more errors.
Using Fitt’s Law as a foundation, UX designers can create ergonomically designed experiences that help reduce human error, increase user productivity, foster safety, and ultimately, lead to user satisfaction.
As such, UX designers need to make targets large enough (the targets need to meet the target size of 44 by 44 CSS pixels) and spaced out enough to reduce errors. A UI designer may need to consider how this applies to the element when it is physically or virtually touched, whether with a finger or pointing device.
An example is a UI designer working to create a more efficient, usable interface. The designer can work not only on reducing the distance between elements and increasing the size of specific elements but also on reducing the total number of targets a user has to interact with to complete a task.
3. Jakob’s Law
Jakob’s Law was coined by Jakob Nielsen, a principal of the Nielsen Norman Group. He states the idea that since users spend time on other sites or applications, they have an expectation that your site or app will function in the same way.
Because users spend most of their time on other sites, they expect your site to work in the same way as other sites they’ve already visited.
With that in mind, designers need to focus on using patterns and conventions that their users are accustom to. This can be in areas such as workflows, page navigation, structure, and placement of common elements. This prevents users from feeling overwhelmed by learning a new mental model or process, and instead, empowers them to keep engaging with your interface.
A great example is designing a page with a search bar. Users are accustomed to seeing a search bar near the top of a page, often with a magnifying glass icon.
A conventional magnifying glass icon helps users identify search feature.
If a designer decides to place the search bar in a completely new place on the page, it can create confusion for the user. If they want to continue using your site, they have to re-learn where the search bar is, taking the extra time.
Search bar positioning at BestBuy website.
4. Miller’s Law
Miller’s Law was formulated by George A. Miller, an American psychologist who was one of the founders of cognitive psychology, and it states that the average person can only keep seven (plus or minus two) items in their working memory.
Humans can only hold about seven pieces of information in their memory at a time. More than that and they could be overwhelmed.
To help prevent this overwhelm, UX designers can focus on chunking, or grouping information together by their related features to make them more cohesive and memorable. Ideas are often grouped this way in everyday life such as referring to ‘90’s music or types of shoes. When items are grouped in this way, the brain has more capacity for short term memory.
Phone numbers are a great example of how chunking can be useful:
A long string of digits without spacing or some kind of punctuation makes it challenging for a user to remember each number. Yet, by grouping the numbers, the user sees them as three groups instead of 11 different numbers to remember.
Applied to UX design, a designer may approach creating a submission form differently by using Miller’s Law. Grouping information by type can help users quickly complete the form and feel less overwhelmed by the process. Additionally, a form may automatically create spacing for elements like phone numbers or credit card numbers, which can help users avoid errors.
5. Parkinson’s Law
Parkinson’s Law states that work will keep expanding to fill up the available time for completion.
People will keep working on a task until their allotted time is reached.
A UX designer can apply this to creating more efficient interfaces that help users complete a task in a timely manner. For example, if you design an eCommerce website you can autofill some data for customers during checkout. By doing that you will save time.
These essential laws provide general guidelines to help UX designers in the design process and are essential for developing better user experiences.,