The eight golden rules of interface design are a collection of principles devised by American computer scientist Ben Shneiderman. These were created to help user interface designers build better experiences for users. At Bolt, we are incredibly passionate about sharing educational resources on the complexities of interface design with our readers.There’s nothing worse than trying to navigate a poorly designed application. If you want to design exceptional interfaces, the needs of the user must be at the forefront of everything you do. User interface design can be a complete game-changer. When a product is easy to use, customers will keep coming back for more. On the flip side, poorly designed interfaces can disengage users from taking actions inside an interface and lead to unfavourable experiences.
In this article, we are going to be exploring the eight golden rules of interface design by Ben Shneiderman. You can use these valuable insights from Ben Schneiderman to inform your user interface designs for applications and software. If you don’t have time to read the full article, here are the eight golden rules for interface design:
We always like to hear the thoughts of our readers on the topics we cover. After reading this article, we would like to hear your thoughts on the eight golden rules in the comments section. Bringing different perspectives into the conversation is incredibly important to us. We thoroughly enjoy hearing the thoughts of the wider design community.
When it comes to crafting user interface design, consistency is everything. It’s easy for users to feel slightly overwhelmed as they try to navigate a new website or application for the very first time. First and foremost, the role of an interface designer is to create seamless experiences - keeping things simple and making it easy for users to independently navigate around a design.
Consistency isn’t just a stylistic thing. It goes much further than this. Sure, it’s important for your interface design to have consistent typography, buttons, and graphics. Finding a sense of consistency in the steps a user has to take to navigate around an interface is far more complex. To do this, you need to ask yourself, as a designer, a few questions.
Are consistent commands employed throughout the interface? Is identical terminology used in menus, prompts, and help screens? Do consistent sequences of actions occur in similar situations across the application? These are just a few examples of how critical thinking can be utilised in the design process to assess the consistency of your designs.
During the user onboarding process, walkthroughs and tutorials can show users how to navigate around an application. As they gradually start to become more familiar with an application, a user may start to look for faster ways to take action. This can be achieved by reducing the number of interactions they make, increasing the pace of using an application.
From abbreviations to hidden commands, there are many different types of shortcuts that can be implemented by an interface designer to support the needs of a seasoned user. Interface design isn’t about first impressions. Your designs need to deliver for expert users that want to reduce the number of interactions they make to achieve a certain goal.
For every action taken by the user in your application, they should get some system feedback. With frequent and minor actions, the system response can be modest. For infrequent and significant actions, the response should be much larger. If you boil this down to the simplest analogy, it can be frustrating to click buttons on a website that fail to trigger a response and ultimately lead to nowhere.
It’s important for sequences of actions to have a beginning, middle, and end. This can help to promote feelings of accomplishment. In your interface designs, try to offer a sense of closure when an action has been completed. For instance, if a user is uploading a file, once the file has successfully finished uploading, you could design a pop-up to notify the user of completion.
These small details can impact how a user interacts with an application. You should never leave your users guessing. If they are likely to have questions, make sure they get answered! When a user takes an action, you need to ensure they can see the consequences of the action. This can make them feel like they are making progress as they use your application.
If you have an interface design where it’s easy for a user to make a serious error, this is going to significantly impact the usability of your application. Interface designs should not incite feelings of panic or worry from users. This is completely counterproductive. If users end up making a serious mistake using your application, the user journey is likely to be cut short.
The eight golden rules of interface design were devised to help UI designers consider aspects of interface design that are often overlooked. As an interface designer, there are so many variables to consider. You have to wear several different hats over the course of the design process to make sure you are building an interface that capitalises on the potential value of the application.
How many times has an ‘undo’ button saved you from a serious error or mistake while using an application or piece of software? Everyone makes mistakes. We are only human. When users make mistakes, how forgiving is your user interface? Allowing users to easily reverse their actions will give them the freedom to make mistakes without being on thin ice.
In his literature, Ben Shneiderman talks about the idea of initiators and responders. Interface designs can either turn users into initiators or responders. Experienced users want to feel as though they are in control of the application they are using. You need to design an interface that makes users feel they like initiators of actions. The application promotes independence by giving users the tools they need to achieve a specific goal.
In the digital age, users are bombarded by information. Some people often claim to suffer from information overload! To help users easily memorise and recognise various aspects of your interface after multiple sessions, you should aim to keep things as simple as possible. Minimalistic designs are not just for aesthetics.
Try to avoid giving users too much information to process at one time. When this happens, it can lead to a considerable amount of confusion. Taking the approach of a minimalist will help users to memorise certain aspects of the interface and reduce short-term memory load.
The eight golden rules of interface design have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of your work. When it comes to interface design, there are so many variables to consider. We passionately believe interface designers are some of the most talented creatives in the design industry because they are often asked to do so much more than simply design.