14 UX design principles with examples to explain usability and product adoption

Roshni Shaikh


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User Experience (UX) design principles are a set of guiding principles that help designers create digital products, websites, apps, or other graphical interfaces that are user-friendly, efficient, and enjoyable for the end users.

The 14 UX design principles we swear by at Devsquad are:

Ux design principles infographic

1. User-centered design

Close to 3 billion people use Facebook. Facebook is a hit not only because of the idea and concept but also because it’s super easy to use.

Its UI is intuitive, and the UX copy is inviting and encourages the user to use the app.

An example showing Facebook’s intuitive UI

An example showing Facebook’s intuitive UI

A user-centered design like this delivers the optimal value of a product by putting the needs and expectations of the users at the forefront of the design process.

For example, if a user is looking to put up a post, the UI design is clear and it allows the user to do just that without distracting the user with too many options for actions.

The goal of user-centered design or UCD is to ensure that the end-users find it natural to navigate the product without changing their behavior or presuppositions.

2. Minimal design, maximum usability

In 2022, Booking.com had over 100 million mobile app users and recorded a total of 511 million visits.

Booking.com recording half a billion visits

Booking.com recording half a billion visits

Despite competitors like Airbnb and TripAdvisor, Booking.com had half a billion visitors because the UI is - simple with minimal functionality and maximum usability.

The goal is to reduce the user's mental load with clear, UX-focused messaging and design. And Booking.com does that very well.

3. Information architecture is the foundation of UX

Myntra.com is one of the largest ecommerce shopping websites with a variety of retail merchandise selling. In July 2022 alone, Myntra recorded 33 million visits. A few years back, Myntra released a report stating that they sold around 8 million products to 2.5 million shoppers in just 4 days.

So how do you list 8 million products on a website and make it findable? With the help of an easy-to-find Information Architecture that categorizes and filters products for easy discoverability.

The information architecture of a large retail e-commerce website

The information architecture of a large retail e-commerce website

Myntra’s sophisticated information architecture

Information architecture design is the process of structuring a website or digital product’s information in a usable, useful format to meet user needs and business objectives. It’s a part of interaction design.

In addition to information architecture, another important aspect of product communication is through

Some ways to upgrade your user experience and increase sales conversions or retention is through:

1. Push notifications: It’s a communication tool to engage, capture interest, and incentivize the users to return to the product. They can be:

  • Transactional messages

  • Marketing messages

  • Abandoned cart reminders (ecom)

  • Product reminders

  • Delivery updates

  • Delivery status updates

  • Product updates

  • Sale notifications (ecom)

  • Relevant offers

  • Triggered messages

2. In-app notifications: They are used to convey:

  • Tooltips

  • Modal windows

  • Pop-up windows

  • Banners

  • Slideouts

  • Product updates

  • Delivery updates

  • Product tours

  • NPS

  • Microsurveys

  • Announcements

Differences between in-app messaging and push notifications

Differences between in-app messaging and push notifications by Userpilot

4. Clarity

The simple graphical user interface of GMail made it a massive hit amongst competitors like Hotmail

The simple graphical user interface of GMail made it a massive hit amongst competitors like Hotmail

On July 4, 1996, Hotmail launched the first free web-based email service. But in the early 2000s, it soon lost its market share to Gmail mainly because of its superior UI.

Hotmail was acquired by Microsoft and still couldn’t make it while Gmail became a phenomenon. It’s because Google was focused on customers and built a user-centered product with a simpler, clear, and intuitive UI which is easy to understand.

Avoiding clutter and unnecessary complexity that may confuse or overwhelm the users is key to a good user experience.

Pro Tip: An easy-to-read typographic style and UX messaging make up half the impact.

5. Coherence and consistency

Consistency in design on Amazon’s website

Consistency in design on Amazon’s website

No matter what product page you pick, Amazon’s design stays consistent and predictable. Good UX design usually goes unnoticed because it’s consistent.

Maintaining consistency in design elements such as colors, typography, icons, and interactions throughout the product creates a cohesive user experience.

Coherence is putting all the compositional design elements together to create a logical user interface that’s intuitive to use and doesn’t need an explanation. Consistency helps users build a mental model of how the product works and enhances usability.

6. Visual grammar

Example of visually appealing and coherent design

Shopify’s visually appealing and coherent design

Shopify.com is one website with a clean and lean design. The visual elements to the sides complement the copy to convey a message. The message is to inspire business owners to make sales, uplift their revenue, grow their business, and the like.

Visual grammar principles are the same as principles in photography - to align grids, lines, shapes, colors, textures, images, and other visual elements of geometry that give a synchronized, overall logical feel and connection. Put together, the visuals communicate a specific idea or emotion.

Just as grammar is essential to effective writing and communication, visual grammar is essential to effective visual communication. It provides a framework for creating clear and concise visual messages that is easily grasped by the audience. By understanding the principles of visual grammar, designers, artists, and communicators create more constructive and impactful visual elements of communication.

7. Interactive design

An image depicting user story mapping

An image depicting user story mapping by Christian Strunk

The above diagram shows user journey mapping and user functions for a particular user story. This is a passive, one-dimensional idealistic user story. In the real world, however, the user story is not so straight and simple.

User flows are much more complicated and interactive where a system usually responds with feedback for further action. That’s interactive design. Let’s continue the above example with real-world scenarios.

Example of user stories in interactive design

Example of user stories in interactive design

Interactive design provides timely and meaningful feedback to users about the outcome of their actions. This can be in the form of visual cues, sounds, or messages to help users understand the results of their interactions.

8. Flexibility in design

Design for different devices, screen sizes, and input methods to ensure that the product is accessible and usable across multiple platforms and contexts.

Flexibility in design refers to the ability of a design or system to adapt and respond to changing needs and circumstances over time. It is the capacity to adjust to new conditions, requirements, and contexts without compromising the overall functionality or effectiveness of the design.

Elementor showing options to device-optimize a website

Elementor showing options to device-optimize a website

Elementor, a no-code website building platform has the option to mobile optimize or auto device optimization feature that helps a website render optimally on any device.

A flexible design is one that can accommodate changes in user needs, technological advancements, or environmental factors, without requiring a complete revamp or redesign.

9. Reversing user action

Reversing user action is one of the most underrated UX design principles.

I had signed up for job opportunities on LinkedIn and while scrolling through the listings, I accidentally hid a job type. Of course, I was asked if I didn’t want to see this job posting and I clicked yes.

But unfortunately, there was no way to reverse my action because I just wanted to hide that particular job and not that “type” of job. There’s a difference. So there was definitely a mismatch in the copy, user intent, and user action. Nevertheless, the mistake could have been fixed if not avoided, if there was a way to undo user actions.

An example showing Facebook’s intuitive UI

Example showing lack of empathetic UX design with no option to reversing a user action

Clicking on the eye symbol in the picture above hides this job type instead of just this job. It’s a major blunder that results in user frustration. It has a lasting impact for the user as they’ll face a massive loss of opportunities just because of one tiny UX fail.

10. Efficiency

Efficiency in design is being able to complete a task in as few steps and in as little time as possible. Evernote is a fantastic example of a simple and efficient UI.

Example showing efficient UX design

Example showing efficient UX design

In Evernote, you can create a to-do list type of note in just one click without having to explore the tool or scroll.

Efficiency in design is making the product efficient to use by reducing unnecessary steps, streamlining workflows, providing shortcuts or automating the tasks where possible, and providing the shortest path to performing a task.

11. Error prevention and recovery

Anticipating and preventing errors through thoughtful design and error handling is one of the biggest UX wins.

Error prevention and recovery are important aspects of UX design that aim to not only minimize user errors but also provide users with clear ways to recover from mistakes they make while using a product or service.

Example of error prevention and recovery in UX design

Example of error prevention and recovery in UX design

Deleting sent messages on Whatsapp is an example of error recovery in UX design.

Error prevention involves designing the product in a way that reduces the likelihood of users making errors. This can be achieved through several design techniques, such as clear and concise instructions, logical and consistent navigation, and the use of visual cues to guide users through the product.

The goal of error prevention is to help users avoid errors altogether, which can save time, reduce frustration, and ultimately improve the overall user experience.

12. Accessibility in design

W3C defines accessibility in design as enabling users with disabilities to understand, navigate, and interact with digital products on the web.

Accessibility in design refers to the design and development of websites, software, and mobile applications that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. This includes people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, and motor impairments, as well as those who use assistive technologies such as screen readers, Braille script displays, and speech recognition software.

Accessibility ensures:

  • Text is easy to read with simple typography and visually appealing colors

  • Alternative text is available for images so that visually impaired people can use text-to-speech services to perceive the image

  • Using high-contrast colors helps visually impaired people or people with color blindness to distinguish between different elements on a page or interface. High-contrast colors also make it easier for people with low vision to read the text and understand other content

  • Providing captions and transcripts for videos and audio content, and designing interfaces that are easy to navigate using keyboard-only input.

Payoneer, a payments tool with accessibility options on mobile

Payoneer, a payments tool with accessibility options on mobile

By incorporating accessibility principles into design, designers, and developers can create products that are more inclusive and better serve a wider range of users.

13. Visual hierarchy

Visual hierarchy in UX design refers to the arrangement of visual elements on a page or interface in a way that communicates the relative importance of each element to the user.

It involves using design principles such as size, color, contrast, proximity, and typography to guide the user's attention and create a clear and intuitive flow of information.

The below product page from Hubspot is an example of using visual hierarchy to guide the user through the intended, purposeful information.

product page from Hubspot is an example of using visual hierarchy

This product page from Hubspot is an example of using a visual hierarchy

The hierarchy of visual design in this case is the natural eye movement from the heading to feature options to payment plans.

The purpose of visual hierarchy is to help users quickly and easily understand the content and structure of a page or interface, and to guide them toward the most important or relevant information. By using visual cues to highlight key elements and create a clear hierarchy of information, designers can improve the usability and effectiveness of a design.

Some common techniques used in visual hierarchy include using larger text or images to draw attention to important elements such as headings, using contrasting colors or shapes to create visual contrast, grouping related elements together to create a sense of hierarchy, and using typography to convey different levels of information or emphasis.

Use visual cues such as typography, color, and spacing to create a clear visual hierarchy that guides users' attention and helps them understand the relative importance of different elements on the interface.

14. Sound in UX

Using different tones of system sounds to indicate different outputs/action/input is also a form of UX.

The option to set system sounds in Microsoft Windows

The option to set system sounds in Microsoft Windows


The goal is to empower the user and put them in control of the tool and not the other way around.

Good user experience design is an amalgamation of all the above elements and a combined effort to put together the UX design principles to create a robust, efficient, easy-to-use digital ecosystem as shown below.

User experience design mind map infographic

The user experience design ecosystem

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