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UI guidelines can be helpful to provide rules-of-thumb, or at least remind you of things to think about when designing a UI. What sets of guidelines exist?

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13 Answers 13

GNOME Human Interface Guidelines

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Simon, I would vote up if they were all in one answer. Answering like this is annoying. Can you just edit and put them together? –  Glen Lipka Aug 23 '10 at 15:58
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Putting them in separate answers lets them be voted on separately. –  Gelatin Aug 23 '10 at 16:19
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Ugh...it's just annoying –  Glen Lipka Aug 24 '10 at 5:57
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Why does it matter if they are voted on separately? none of these answers represent a set of possible alternatives in which one can be 'more correct' than another, they are all the single right answer for a question. –  Steve Mitcham Aug 24 '10 at 12:45
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I agree with Glen. Your answer is "here are 3 solutions" breaking them apart doesn't really help. –  Jeff Sheldon Aug 27 '10 at 23:08

It's vital to outline 'what' you're designing. There are certainly design patterns and guidelines for a variety of platforms but also for a variety of audiences. If you're talking about designing for the web Yahoo has one of the most comprehensive and open collections of patterns out there: (http://developer.yahoo.com/ypatterns/) otherwise it really depends on what you're trying to design. You're best served searching for patterns and going from there - the Wroblewski form design book is a great example of drilling down to specific tasks/elements for insight.

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I would look for UI design patterns. Design patterns are proven solutions to common problems - they started out in the field of architecture but have been ported over to design and development. For an introduction into design patterns, you could read A Pattern Language and The Timeless Way of Building, but both of these are concerned with architecture and not design/development.

For design patterns, the Design Patterns book is a good start. The Design Of Sites is also a good book to read. And, of course, Designing Interfaces.

If you want to just dive into patterns that already exist, you can look at the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library or the UI Patterns website.

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The Usability Professionals' Association provides great guidelines, you might also want to check out the IEEE as well.

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While it's not exactly a "Guidelines" website, I like to think of it more like a "How Not To Do Things" website. It's hilarious at times because most of it is so true.

Adobe UI Gripes

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There are many guidelines out there, coming under different banners too:

You might want to filter the lot as the applicability depends on what kind of UIs you are designing, the context of use, enabling technology and so on. For example, the Oracle Fusion Middleware enabled Fusion UX Design Patterns and Guidelines (disclosure: I work for Oracle and know about these) for enterprise apps: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/topics/ux/applications/gps-1601227.html

A good place to start IMO is with an overall philosophy of where you want to go with your UI and see what support there is for bringing those thoughts to life as artfully as possible. Try:

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