User experience is a broad discipline. Anyone who practices UX design should have skills in many various fields. While it’s impossible to summarize all the knowledge that’s helpful during a single article, it’s still possible to spotlight the foremost important rules every UX designer should follow to create an excellent experience for people.

Here are the 10 essential rules that each designer should be conversant in.


  1. UX is not (only) UI

User Interface is a part of User Experience

Swapping UX with UI, as if the 2 are an equivalent, maybe a common mistake among many designers. It’s essential to understand the difference between the two disciplines, and we’ve covered the topic of UX design in detail in the article What You Should Know About User Experience. 


  1. Know your audience

User research may be a natural initiative within the design process

It should come as no surprise that one of the most important factors you should consider when designing a product is the audience. If you plan to design a product your users will love, you must have an idea of what your audience wants and needs. And this suggests user research should be an important part of the UX design process. It’s critical to keep your users top of mind before you start designing! This will allow you to provide value for people who’ll use your product and focus on benefits instead of features.


  1. You are not the user

Testing with real users is an important part of the planning process

Designers often assume that people who will use their interfaces are like them. As a result, designers project their behaviors and reactions to users. But thinking that you are your user is a fallacy. 


Most probable, the people who’ll use your product have different backgrounds, different mindsets, different mental models, and different goals. In other words, they are not you.

There is a technique the helps designers overcome false-consensus bias, called usability testing. If you want to build products that users love, then you have to focus on testing. Testing with real users (not your teammates, friends, or family) allows designers to learn how to create products that are right for those who will use them. This may be time-consuming, but it’s the only way to be sure that you’re moving in the right direction.


  1. Adapt design for short attention spans

Don’t overwhelm users with too much information

An attention span is defined as the amount of time someone concentrates on a task without becoming distracted. A 2015 study conducted by Microsoft found that the typical human span has declined from 12 seconds to eight seconds. This means that we now have a shorter attention span than goldfish. Designers need to adjust to cope with this behaviour, to get people the information they need as quickly as possible.


Designers should simplify interfaces by removing unnecessary elements or content that does not support user tasks. One technique that allows designers to achieve that is functional minimalism. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that experiences should be limited. All information should be valuable and relevant.


  1. The UX process isn’t set in stone

Adapt your design process for the merchandise you design

UX process may be a make-it-or-break-it aspect of UX design. Without a solid UX process, a designer might be completely occupation the dark. A clear and concise UX development process, on the other hand, makes it possible to craft amazing experiences for users.


Many designers believe that there’s one universal UX process that will be applied to all or any projects. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all UX design. While it’s possible to define individual steps for every project, a particular UX process should be selected supported project requirements — each project is exclusive and has its own needs. This means that to create the best possible user experience a designer should be ready to adapt their design process based on project specifics. For example, if you are designing a new product you might need to spend more time on user research and requires clarification. But if you’re redesigning an existing product then you might need to spend more time on design validation (conducting usability and A/B testing, or working with analytics reports).


  1. Prototype before you build a real product

The design phase should include a prototyping stage

Skipping prototyping and putting a lot of effort into a building is a huge mistake. When we put a lot of effort into creating something that we believe is great, it can be stressful to realize that our solution doesn’t work as expected when we release it into the wild.

Prototyping is creating a model of a product so that it can be tested. Designers can use different design techniques for prototyping. One useful prototyping technique is called rapid prototyping. It’s a popular way of quickly creating the future state of a product, be it a website or an app, and validating it with a group of users.


  1. Use real content when designing

Avoid Lorem Ipsum and dummy placeholders

Almost every product is based around content, whether that’s text, images, or videos. It can be said that design is an enhancement to the content. Yet many designers don’t take content into account during the design phase — they use Lorem Ipsum instead of real copy and placeholders instead of real images. While such a design might look great on a designer’s artboard, the picture might be completely different when the same design is filled with actual data.


Our goal as designers is to get as close to the real customer experience as possible. Thus, we shouldn’t abstract ourselves from real experience.


  1. Keep things simple and consistent

The hallmark of a great user interface is simplicity and consistency

In the context of digital products, simplicity means that’s it’s easy to understand and interact with a product. Your users shouldn’t need to read instructions to understand how to use an app or have a map to navigate through it. It’s part of your job as an interface designer to make things clear and subtly guide them from where they are to where they need to go.


Interfaces must even be kept consistent throughout a design. In an attempt to make designs appear more creative and memorable many designers intentionally add inconsistencies in style. For example, different color schemes can be used on different pages on a website. Such design decisions often cause confusion and frustration in users. Thus, it’s always important to keep the design element familiar, reinforcing the most important facets of your design at every turn. Remember to apply the Principle of Least Astonishment to your product design.


  1. Recognition over recall

Showing users elements they will recognize improves usability versus wanting to recall items from scratch

Due to the limitations of human memory, designers should ensure users can automatically recognize how to use certain features of their product instead of making them recall this information. Strive to minimize the cognitive load by making information and interface functions visible and easily accessible.


  1. Make design usable and accessible

Design for a diverse set of users that will interact with your products

When it comes to design, designers often obsess over the look and appeal instead of functionality and accessibility. Most of us try to make things look beautiful. Quite often this leads to a situation where aesthetics become more important for designers than usability. Of course, aesthetics are important and we definitely should try to make our designs appealing, but only after we have usable products. The most important job of digital products and services is to perform a function.


Accessible interaction design allows users of all abilities to navigate, understand, and use digital products successfully. A well-designed product is accessible to users of all abilities, including those with low vision, blindness, hearing impairments, cognitive impairments, or motor impairments. Accessibility indeed introduces a set of constraints to incorporate as you consider your design, but improving your product’s accessibility enhances usability for all users. You can find a lot of helpful information on how to make interfaces more accessible in WCAG 2.0 and Material Design guidelines.


Conclusion – don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes — it’s the only way to learn something

You only really learn when you make mistakes. If you’re fearful of making mistakes and try to get everything perfect, you’ll miss out on learning. Follow the rules above, but above all, keep trying new UX design techniques and approaches to find the one that works the best for you and your clients.