UX Design: 6 Core Design Principles to Increase User Satisfaction

UX design impacts user satisfaction. Every feature of your digital product, including user flows, images, copy, CTA buttons, and more, should be designed with the user in mind.

UX Design: 6 Core Design Principles to Increase User Satisfaction

To this purpose, UX designers aim to create a seamless experience geared totally towards users, which may be simple, but it’s effective.

That’s why 73% of companies are now investing in design intended to create better customer experiences and more effective marketing materials than other brands. And those that have a design-driven user-journey are more likely to surpass their business goals.

But that’s the difficult part. How do you incorporate UX design elements into your digital product in a way that assists users on their journey?

First, you need a strong understanding of the fundamental principles of UX design.

What Is UX Design?

UX design means designing digital or physical products with the end user in mind. It focuses on ease of use, providing value to the user and creating a fantastic overall experience when users interact with your product.

You probably have a favorite restaurant you keep going back to. But have you ever sat and thought about why you keep returning?

When you think about it, there’s more to it than their epic fries. It’s the ambient atmosphere, the friendly servers, the tasty drinks that accompany your meal, the simple menu, the speedy service, and so on.

Similarly, user experience design is all about making sure the user has a great time overall while interacting with your product.

The Core Principles of UX Design

UX design principles go beyond aesthetics. UX designers work to reduce the amount of time and effort a user has to put in when interacting with your product.

To do this, they need a thorough understanding of users' values, behaviours, and pain points. According to the Interaction Design Foundation, "To apply design principles effectively, you need a strong grasp of users' problems and a good eye for how users will accept your solutions." Armed with user insights, UX designers can design a product that fulfils user needs.

With that in mind, here are six core principles that UX designers must utilise to develop a user-centred design.

1. Prototyping

The first step in the UX design process is to build a clickable prototype of your digital product. This way, you can discover errors through user testing.

Teston allows you to test anything that can be shown on a computer screen, including prototypes and design drafts. Testing a prototype is a good idea as it’s more expensive to fix mistakes later on.

Begin with a paper prototype and get some user feedback. Then create a clickable prototype with wireframes using a tool like InVision or Adobe XD.

Get colleagues and real potential users to test whether your product functions correctly. For example, test whether your signup form or checkout process works.

Once you have your feedback you can turn wireframes into a design mockup to provide an even better idea of what the final product will look like.

2. Hierarchy

The first type of hierarchy you must focus on is information architecture. Information architecture refers to the organisation of your site or app. If users can’t find what they’re looking for on your site, they’ll bounce.

Research suggests that poor navigation results in around a quarter of users being unable to locate the right information. So you need clear navigation that makes sense to the user.

Amazon, for instance, starts with broad categories that lead to more specific categories as you move along:

UX design: Amazon's categories page design

You can check that your navigation is easy to use via user testing. For example, you could set a task within Teston where the user must locate a specific page using your menu.

The other type of hierarchy you should pay attention to is visual hierarchy. In UX design, visual hierarchy means the way in which design elements are presented or organised according to the element’s level of importance.

Web designers use certain design elements, such as size, colour, or typography to draw the user’s eye to the most important aspects of a page.

Here, Amazon highlights the price in red and "FREE DELIVERY" in caps:

UX design: Amazon's product page design

You can employ similar tactics within your digital product.

3. Usability

As mentioned above, one of the main aspects of product design is ease of use.

A Forbes Councils member writes, “In many ways, usability is the most important aspect of a website ... affecting everything from SEO to site speed.”

If your site doesn’t load quickly enough, if it’s difficult to navigate, if it’s cluttered, etc., then users will not stick around, which naturally means fewer conversions.

Usability testing can help you discover what’s preventing visitors from taking action. Using Teston’s platform, you can record users as they interact with your site and express their opinions on its usability.

For instance, users might find a cluttered site distracting, drawing attention away from your call to action.

Testing allows you to find and fix any usability issues.

4. K.I.S.S.

K.I.S.S. stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” And simplicity is everything in user experience design.

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, “The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use.”

When design is simple, users don’t have to think too much or spend too much time moving along their journey. So you may find that a clear, minimalist design provides a better overall experience.

Take inspiration from the likes of Apple.

UX design: Apple's product page design

Their clean and simple designs make the purchase process easy for users. Simplicity makes for optimal usability.

5. Consistency

Every digital product needs design elements that feel familiar to the user. This enables them to journey through apps, websites, or other digital products they haven’t even seen before.

For example, when you open an app on your phone, you’ll see navigation icons along the bottom of the user interface, as in this example from Headspace:

UX design: Headspace's webpage design

Looking at the mockup of their phone app, you know immediately that the figure icon in the right-hand corner is where you access your profile or account details. It’s little details like this that ease the experience for users.

Consistency has the added bonus of simplifying the design process for web designers, graphic designers, and UX designers too.

To implement this UX design principle, visit digital products in the same space as yours.

Let’s say you have an e-commerce site. There are common features users would expect to see, e.g. their basket in the top right corner.

Make sure your design is consistent with similar products. Then test users using a platform like Teston to ensure your product resonates with them.

6. User Control

Though you may use tactics to guide users along their journey, the users themselves must remain in control. This comes down to easing their frustrations, particularly when they make errors or find themselves on a page they didn’t mean to visit.

There are a number of ways you can use design to facilitate user control. A simple “back” button or “cancel” button is a useful means of navigation, which is especially significant when users start working their way through your hierarchy.

If you have several categories, it’s easier for users to jump back just one step so they don’t have to start all over again.

Similarly, when you visit the #Explore section on Twitter, and click on a post, an arrow button takes you back to where you were in the feed so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling.

UX design: Twitter's user controls

Again, users might not consciously notice these small touches, but they would notice if such features were missing. Another way to give users control is to increase their autonomy. Help them use your products more efficiently with minimal input from you.

For instance, at Teston, we provide a range of templates with tasks and questions companies can utilise when running user experience tests.

Other options might be providing keyboard shortcuts or advanced search options so users can work quickly.

Make UX Design Your Focus

User-centered design should be a fundamental part of your business strategy. It ensures your products are useful and easy-to-use.

There’s more to it than visual design. UX professionals utilise design elements tactically to improve the user's experience.

Sometimes, taking a user-centred approach means working on major elements such as the informational architecture of your digital product. Other times, good UX is about adding small touches that ensure you go above and beyond for the user.

The first step is to obtain feedback to see how well your product functions for users no matter where you are in the design process. Find out how users interact with your designs with a free trial from Teston.