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37 Principles of Usability

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Usability is the degree to which all users find a design to be pleasing and productive to use. This is a basic design goal that can apply to anything that people use including products, services, information, environments, vehicles, machines, infrastructure and equipment. The following are basic principles of usability.
Structure things into levels.
Provide pragmatic shortcuts that are independent of structure.
Use contrast to highlight important things.
Design to the Edges
Designing things for everyone including people with disabilities.
Things act as people expect.
Use similar and repeated elements.
Avoid needless or confusing contextual change.
Ideally there is little or nothing to learn.
Users can accomplish goals with minimal time and effort.
Input is Error
Don’t ask users questions that you can figure out with automation.
User Control
Allow users to control things they want to control.
Desire Path
Allow users to do things the way they want to do it.
Multiple Paths
Allow for multiple paths and ways of working.
Allow users to customize interfaces and functionality.
Voice of Customer
Continuously improve usability using customer feedback.
Allow users to provide meaningful feedback.
Share information users may want. Avoid needless secrecy.
Users can recover from mistakes.
Error Prevention
Human error is designed-out.
Fast response times are important.
Fault Tolerance
Gracefully recover from errors and intelligently handle exceptions.
Least Astonishment
Use familiar design elements unless there is a very good reason not to.
Recognition Over Recall
Avoid making the user remember things, rather make things recognizable.
Least Effort
Make things as easy as possible for the user.
Make things easy to find.
Status Visibility
Clearly and quickly communicate what is going on to the user.
User Freedom
Allow users to bypass functions and features they don’t want to use.
Provide users with an exit and a way to stop a process in motion.
Plain Language
Use of language to communicate to a broad audience as opposed to impress.
Respect for Intelligence
Respect the intelligence of the user. Avoid dumbing things down.
Meaningless Icons
Assume that icons are meaningless to users. Don’t rely on them to communicate.
All things have textual labels.
Interfaces that work on all relevant devices.
Never Assume
Avoid assumptions such as assuming a user prefers a language based on their location.
Helpful Defaults
Defaults that are ideal for most users.
Users First
Designs are oriented towards user satisfaction and not towards making things easier for implementers.
Essential Complexity
Add complexity to the point of maximum value. Avoid needless minimalism or clutter.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about usability.
Calm Technology
Context Of Use
Color Theory
Customer Experience
Context Awareness
Design Principles
Fit For Purpose
Human Factors
Information Scent
Design To The Edges
Input Is Error
Latent Error
Human Scale
Modeless Design
Information Density
User Analysis
User Intent
Negative Space
Least Effort
Sensory Design
Universal Design
Universal Usability
Usability Requirements
More ...
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