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Dec 22, 2021   |   by Jaya Mehta

10 Usability Heuristics You Should Know for Effective User Interface Design

Our perspective of the world around us is primarily affected by the underlying concepts that we have implemented. Principles help us understand what is true and apply it to new or unfamiliar situations. They are absolute facts that give us skills to assess our thoughts and actions. Similarly, to guide the design of user interface and user experience, 10 rule of thumb has been stated that help in creating effective UI and UX. Hence this blog will cover 10 Usability Heuristic Principles for Designing effective UI and UX Design. 

What are the Usability Heuristic Principles for UI UX Design?

User Experience is a subjective metric that is influenced by various factors. In simple words, it is a usability assessment method used to uncover any design faults with the user interface. Jakob Nielsen defined the ten general principles of interaction design 25 years ago. These standards were developed based on years of experience in usability engineering, and they've since become human-computer interaction rules of thumb. They are just as relevant today as they were back then. They can help development teams save a significant amount of time.

Let’s walk through these ten usability heuristic principles in detail.

1. Visibility of System Status

Imagine you are on some application that wants to download something, and as soon as you open the app, you really can't find where to download from, and there is no further clue or navigation to another page. Will you stay on that app? I am sure you will get so frustrated and immediately install or delete forever? So, the first Heuristic is all about the current status or page you're seeing, and therefore it is named Visibility of System Status. It says users should have the proper information and be communicated about the page they are viewing by providing appropriate feedback within a reasonable time, such as loading bars, success or failed messages, uploading percentage, and file transferring status. Not only this, proper navigation instructions to proceed further should be initiated.

Quick Note: Always make the status of the system clear and accurate.

2. Match Between System and the real world

The System should communicate with the user in its language with words, phrases and concepts familiar to them. Besides that, the system should follow the conventions from the real world and always be user-centric. Using this heuristic principle makes it easier for users to learn and remember how to use an interface when the controls match real-world standards and correlate to desirable outcomes. Not only this, it helps create a better and effective User Experience.

Quick Note: Avoid using system-oriented terms and an icon that illustrates real-world objects.

3. User Control and Freedom

Users frequently make mistakes when doing actions. They require an indicated "emergency escape" that allows them to exit the unpleasant action without going through a lengthy process. This provides a sense of freedom to the users and avoids them being stuck and feeling annoyed. For example, give undo and redo support or use the Cancel button, back arrow key.

Quick Note: Ensure the exit is well-marked and easily accessible.

4. Error Prevention

A smart design that prevents a problem from developing in the first place is even better than effective error messages. Either eliminate or check for error-prone circumstances and provide users with a confirmation option before committing to an action. For example, before executing critical activities such as deleting or offering an undo option, it is standard to ask for confirmation.

Quick Note: Provide helpful constraints, remove memory burden, and warn users. 

5. Help users recognize, diagnose and recover from errors

Nothing is more aggravating than making an error and not knowing how to fix it. That's why pay close attention to error messages such as error screens, notifications, toasts, and so on. Even though they all have different purposes, they speak to the user in natural language and convey the message clearly. For example, utilizing red text, big bold to highlight the error message.

Quick Note: Error messages and a dialogue box should be displayed in plain language, clearly stating the problem and offering a proactive solution.

6. Consistency and Standards

People spend the most time online using some or other app/websites. User Experience with those applications set the expectations. Therefore a consistent and standard maintained design should be crafted. Users should not have to guess what different words, situations, or actions signify. Stick to the platform's conventions. For example: if a widget looks one way in one section of the UI, it should look the same elsewhere unless there is a reason to look differently.

Quick Note: Maintain established market norms.

7. Recognition rather than recall

The Design should be created in such a way that users don’t find it difficult to recall the actions and easily recognize the interface. Every instruction displayed should be clearly visible and easily retrievable. The advantage of using this usability heuristic is that humans have a finite scope for short-term memory. Users' intellectual work is reduced when they use interfaces that enhance recognition. You can apply this design heuristic by displaying components with their description, checkboxes and radio button, visible navigation, and help reduce users' cognitive load.

Quick Note: Optimize help in the context of a lengthy tutorial.

8. Flexibility and Efficiency of use

This usability heuristic says that an interface should be for both experienced and new users. It tells that a novice user must be able to use the application efficiently and be provided with the tailored application to recurring actions. This heuristic usability can be achieved by providing keyboard shortcuts, personalization, customization, and touch gestures.

Quick Note: Prioritize the information and features to help achieve the main interface objectives.

9. Aesthetic and Minimalist Design

Adding irrelevant information and icons will make your design clumsy and untidy. Extra icons 
Quick Note: Use Simple and Creative graphics to convey information. So does it mean you always have to use a flat design? No, absolutely not!  The Heuristic simply requires you to keep the text, and visual design focused on the most important elements.

Quick note: Ascertain that the interface's visual aspects serve the user's core objectives.

10. Help and Documentation

Keeping in mind all the above Usability Heuristic Principle’s while designing the interface will help in providing all the information to the user, but in case if they miss anything, they should have another way to get things; hence providing Help and Documentation will make their search easy. For example, you can make the search option available, add FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) and tooltip.
Quick Note: Make Documentation in concrete steps and avoid lengthy content.


Here we come at the end of the blog, Hope you enjoyed it and got some insight about the user interface and user experience. These design heuristic principles play a major role in defining the interface's concept and design. The Design Trip design the UI and UX keeping in mind all the above principle and helping you make a design that’s outstanding and unique in their sense. Contact today and request a callback.