As a programmer I find that a very useful set of rules for my daily work is the Zen of Python, a set of basic guidelines that helped me to develop a sense of taste and that became the foundation for more specific rules I try to apply.

Is there a similar set of rules (or "commandments") you find yourself frequently coming back to in regards to User Experience Design?

[EDIT] I was hoping find a set of concise, simple and possibly controversial guidelines, that may serve as a starting point for a conversation about UX Design in my organization. Something I can print out and pin to the board beside the coffee machine. Maybe Dogme 95 is a better example than the Zen of Python.

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    This question is too broad. There are many best practices, there are patterns and good books to read. Like "Laws of Simplicity" by John Maeda or NNG heuristics. – Dominik Oslizlo Feb 11 '14 at 10:33

Good question. I've being doing UX under various names for over twenty years now and have a set of guidelines I use that I have never put down - perhaps I should formalise them.

Here are a few.

  • The user is never wrong, but often in a hurry.

  • Context is king.

  • Always make sure the user is moving forward.

  • Remove dead ends.

  • The aim of any interface is apparent simplicity. The best route to simplicity is through the messy middle of the problem, not by focusing on the surface.

  • Never ask the user what the want but what they do.

  • User experiences are about feelings not logic.

  • If in doubt - put it in front of a user. Always have some doubt.

  • Avoid the arbitrary.

There's probably a book or at least a blog post in there to explain these. UX is more about empathy and problem solving than making buttons look nice or what technique is used.

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I guess those apply to design as well ;-)

The issue with design guidelines is, they grow old and grey even quicker than in the programming world. "Readability counts" is true for Assembler as it is for Javascript, but the change in user habits and knowledge and the advances in technology requires new UX rules every day.

There were times when hyperlinks (when they were still called thus) needed an underline and blue font color to be recognizable at all. They needed special affordance because there was no concept of interactive words in a paper world. Now design is going "flat", leaving near to no trace of interactivity - except the labels. What has changed? The user base has changed: Numerous Digital Natives know that everything can be tapped, and Digital Immigrants have learnt to tap if nothing else helps.

So, yes, there are very strict rules sometimes, when you are designing within some framework (e.g., for a specific company), but you have to define the scope of the question clearly to get less abstract rules than those in Zen of Python.

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When it comes to UI or UX or interaction design, there are many sets of rules, guidelines, or heuristics, preached by many different advocates. Here's is a sampling:

http://www.nngroup.com/articles/ten-usability-heuristics/ http://www.asktog.com/basics/firstPrinciples.html https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/documentation/userexperience/conceptual/applehiguidelines/HIPrinciples/HIPrinciples.html

Those are just a few of the various lists you can find if you dig around. There's overlap there, some are dated, some are less universal than others, etc.

If I were to pick a single, most important (to me) guiding principle, simply stated, it would be don't make me think. There happens to be a very good book titled Don't Make Me Think, which is a good starting point in learning usability/UX, which I highly recommend. The book is concerned with web design but much of it applies to computer UI design in general.

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