Close Contact Form

Got a project in mind?

Let's talk.

    Here at Cefar we take your privacy seriously and will only use your information to contact you.

    Read more

    However, from time to time we would like to contact you with details of services we provide and/or information which we believe may be of interest to you. If you consent to us contacting you for this purpose please tick this box:

    UX / UI

    5 Essential Rules Of UX Design

    UX design seems like one of those disciplines you could never fully wrap your head around.

    It combines skills from many different fields, involves many different principles and aspects, and everyone and their dog seems to describe and talk about it in a different way.

    When you boil it down, though, UX design is actually pretty straightforward. And by learning just five essential rules, including exactly what the heck it is, you can get an understanding of it that surpasses even that of your average design know-it-all.

    1. Are You Thinking UX or UI?

    You’ll be amazed at how many designers who’ve worked in the field for years still use the terms User Experience (UX) and User Interaction (UI) interchangeably. But although they have similar abbreviations and operate within the same space, the two are vastly different — and it’s essential to know why.

    UX or UI

    A helpful way to distinguish the two is by getting clear on what is meant by interface and experience. Interface refers to physical mediums of communication between a person a system — phones, laptops, voice-activated devices, etc. So when we talk about user interface (UI) design, we’re talking about the screens, pages, buttons, and other visual elements of a product. In short, the external parts of a design that you can see.

    Experience, on the other hand, refers to the interactions that take place between a user and a product. User experience thus has more to do with intangible aspects like the emotions that are generated and how an experience feels on the whole. In short, it’s the internal outcomes of a design you can’t see.

    Remembering the difference between UI and UX is, therefore, crucial if you want to make a product or design that not only looks incredible but provides an incredible experience too.

     2. Empathise to Your Heart’s Content

    How can you design something for someone else, when — at risk of stating the obvious — you are not them. 

    So many designers fall into the trap of thinking they know how their users think and know exactly what they want. But, due to the unavoidable fact, they’re in the role of “creator” and “expert”, and that we all have uniquely different backgrounds, life experiences, beliefs, mindsets, and goals, this is all too often far from the case.

    Fortunately, we have a powerful skill called empathy at our disposal that allows us to get a look in on what it’s like to be someone else. Using empathy and journey maps, we can cultivate this skill and explore the feelings, influences, pain points, and tasks of users. The result is you come to put your own experience aside, at least for a while, and see things from a different perspective.

    Get out of the shoes of a designer or expert and into the shoes of your users, and suddenly you’ll start thinking in terms of problems instead of solutions, benefits instead of features, and value instead of outcomes.

    3. Question Everything, Then Question Some More

     It’s okay to have an assumption about what you’re users want or how a product will turn out. But unless you arrived there through intensive questioning, then the likelihood is you’re wrong.

    Worst of all is when we don’t recognise our assumptions but instead just assume we know. If there’s one thing humans are good at, it’s guessing. Unlike other creatures, we have the incredibly useful capacity to plan ahead and foresee how something may turn out. But we often don’t recognise when we’re doing it, and as a result, don’t stop to question our ideas and beliefs. This makes things easier in the short term, but costs us and our businesses heavily in the long run.

    Question yourself as often as you can using the five why principle. And remember, assumptions are useful, but they should always be at the beginning of a process and not the end. 

    4. Stick to Your Ethics and Morals

    Sure, in a real-life conversation you could lie to someone’s face and talk to them in salesy and impersonal jargon, or interrupt them half-way through and ask if they want to sign up to your newsletter. But you don’t.

    You don’t do this because we have a governing set of agreements (ethics) along with individual standards and principles (morals). Such mechanisms serve as guides for how to behave in the physical world. But the online world is a world of its own, and in the current day, lacks such a common system to tell us what is right and what is wrong.

    When designing online experiences, then, it’s up to us to decide whether we want to use annoying tactics that make users stay on the page longer, get them to spend more, or even, heaven forbid, get them addicted to our products (ahem, Facebook).

    Would you trust a website that’s full of rhetoric and sales jargon? Would you want to be interrupted by a popup while you’re reading an article? First, think about how you’d act and want to be treated in real life, then design second.

    5. Know What Works and What Doesn’t

    Many people think, particularly in UX design, that’s there’s one definitive process and one set of methods that can be applied to all projects. But one of the key principles of user experience is that things are always changing and every project is different.

    That’s not to say, though, there aren’t classic methods that work. The old and traditional and the new and progressive can co-exist alongside each other. The key is knowing when something works and when something is ready to throw away or be updated.

    Take the UX process. The stages are pretty much always the same — research, analysis, design, validation — but the way you go about it can change for every project. For instance, if you’re designing a new product, you may spend a lot of time in the user research phase. But if you’re improving an existing product, you may spend much more time invalidation, doing split testing and comparing analytics reports.

    The bottom line is stick to what works. But as UX design is so fluid and evolving every day, at the same time, you need to be aware that things can always be done differently, and therefore, potentially, more effectively.