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I am working on a project that requires catering for a large number of personas and scenarios. Key to meeting these needs is a UI that provides a customised experience. I was wondering if there is any resources that provide guidelines on how to optimise design for customisation.

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In addition to Michael's answer, I'd also like to add that there exist guidelines for product customization which are based on user research and put together by the Nielsen Norman group.

Quoted from the report:

Web technology allows organizations to move beyond one-size-fits-all interfaces and products — allowing users to define and design their own experiences. Users appreciate custom homepages and web-based design-it-yourself processes. However, our research shows that users often encounter severe usability issues when trying to accomplish customization activities.

This 93-page report offers 46 design guidelines based on our usability research. Discussions and 78 screenshot illustrations supplement our findings.

The report does not cover personalization — where a software system tries to predict individual users' needs automatically. It is solely about designs where users themselves employ features to manually customize or configure the UI or a product.

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  • My main focus is on personalizing the user experience based on data that we accumulate over time. By providing multiple states to different UI elements we can surface content that is relevant to a particular user or user group. the main challenge is using design patterns, solutions that would account for current usage while also being adapted to future growth within the user data set.That being said I definitely need to put my hand on this report particularly because it deals with handing control to users over the type of experience they want to have.
    – Okavango
    Jun 11 '14 at 9:00
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I think you don't need to change any existing principles or guidelines. The only thing you need to do is to be more thorough with the mapping of user mental models and customer journeys to work out where the similarities and differences are. This is the starting point for any customization decisions that you need or may not need to make.

I would also suggest that you consider techniques based on user behaviour and usage statistics like progressive disclosure of content/interactions as well as progressive reduction, which will eventually allow you to tailor the UI to the individual or group of users.

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