Pareto's principle (80/20 rule) makes sense, but I can't think of a real scenario for it's application to UX design.

How can we use this rule in the UX design process?

closed as too broad by plainclothes, Mayo, Devin, Graham Herrli, JohnGB Apr 13 '16 at 4:06

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  • This is a pretty broad question, please clarify what you are interested in. Prime examples of "Pareto in UX" would be: 20% of commands are used 80% of the time. – peterchen Apr 12 '16 at 7:20
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    20% of users account for 80% of the feature demand. – plainclothes Apr 12 '16 at 7:27
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    Conversely: 80% of users will only use 20% of your application. – plainclothes Apr 12 '16 at 7:28
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    80% of the feedback will come from 20% of the users ... shall I continue? It's all theory -- I could make these numbers up all day! – plainclothes Apr 12 '16 at 7:29
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    @plainclothes Thank you editing this question, now it makes more sense :P – Abhishek Sharma Apr 13 '16 at 3:51

After my somewhat dismissive comments, it occurred to me that @Peterchen hit on one constant facet of application design that fits Pareto's principle.

What 80/20 really means

The spirit of Pareto's principle (or the Law of the Vital Few) is

A relatively small number of things have a relatively large impact.

In the design of applications or other digital products, this is true of features and user needs. There are many things that most mature applications need to do, but only a small number of those things are used with great frequency.

Designing for the Pareto principle

I think most product designers intuitively account for this reality, but you make a good point in suggesting that we should be deliberate in recognizing it's application. So how do we address it explicitly?

As you outline the feature set of an application or the functions of a new feature, ask yourself what functions and interactions are:

  1. A critical part of the workflow
  2. Used with disproportionately great frequency

You should understand that these are the 20 that will generate the 80. Ensure that their purpose is well understood and their use is easily accessible.

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