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6 Key Principles of Usability Design

User-Friendly Design 101: How to Improve Product Usability

July 15, 2022
10 min read

What is usability

The word "usability" is formed with two root words, "use" ― to use, and "ability" ― an opportunity. This reflects a crucial meaning: usability as a notion <medium>determines how convenient it is to use a particular object, how easy it is to master, and to what extent it can solve the user's problem.<medium>

For example, imagine a playground. You can consider the playground's usability from different angles, and it's used by two primary groups of people:

  • By kids, as the site has many slides and space for a large number of children to play.
  • By the kids' parents, as apart from letting children play, they see it as a place where they can rest, chat, and look after the kids when they play.

Both these use cases can be applied to a playground. Of course, the kids' and the parents' ideas of playgrounds' convenience will differ, and each of them will aim to achieve different goals while being there.

An example of what usability is for

In 2015-2017, analysts noted a turning point in the traffic distribution between mobile and desktop versions of mobile devices. This led to a new trend called <medium>"mobile-first"<medium>. Its essence lies in the priority of developing the mobile version, while the work on desktop view may be postponed.

usability design

The mobile-first principle is derived from a simple premise. If the website does not have an adaptive and convenient version, it becomes challenging to look at, and the user eventually leaves. <medium>Search engines do not tend to offer inconvenient-to-view pages<medium>, so they initially give priority in ranking to sites optimized for viewing on mobile devices. However, if the website optimized for mobile traffic is inconvenient to view, the guests will quickly leave it. <medium>The quicker the users leave the site, the worse the user experience gets.<medium>

The conclusion is that <medium>ignoring the convenience<medium> of your potential customers <medium>will not give the desired result<medium> (or even make it difficult for them to find a site on the Internet).

Six usability principles

When creating a product, the aesthetic is not only the component that matters. You must <medium>make an understandable and convenient interface<medium> for the person using it: this rule is the essence of usability.

Before starting a project, <medium>determine the target audience<medium>. Think about who will use the product, what are these people's needs and expectations, and what factors will influence their decision-making.

In the 1990s, Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D. in Physical Sciences, Nielsen Norman Group founder, <medium>established ten usability principles<medium>, calling them <medium>heuristics<medium>. Although invented decades ago, they remain relevant to this day and can be projected on modern products, as they comply with UI best practices.

1. First impression principle

usability principles


2. Quick identification of elements

user interface designs examples


3. Standardization

good ui

The most important consistency is <medium>meeting users' expectations on how an element works or a particular task is resolved<medium>. People should not wonder if different words, symbols, situations, or actions mean the same thing. For instance, if you use a green button for a CTA, it should be green on similar elements throughout the site. If the user begins to think hard while visiting the page, fearing taking the wrong step, it means that the design system is not developed well enough.


4. Distinct interface status


5. Quality of the flow

user friendly interface


6. Flexibility and efficiency of using the interface

ui best practices

It's essential to provide the user with <medium>multiple paths to perform the same action<medium>. For example, to duplicate some text in the browser, you can press the right mouse button and select "Copy" and then "Paste here." Alternatively, you can perform an action using accelerators: use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V. Basically, it's the same action executed differently. This approach allows choosing the method of action that seems most convenient.

It is also worth <medium>considering a personal approach<medium>: add filters, searches, and a choice of configurations that help the user form an exciting offer and adjust the flow independently.

Ways to measure usability & what usability audit

web user interface designs

The website's usability should be <medium>measured by conversion<medium> ― namely, <medium>how many users performed the target action<medium>. It can be making a purchase, leaving a request, or subscribing to the newsletter, depending on the site's goal.

If the resource has problems, experts conduct <medium>a usability audit<medium>. This analysis allows you to <medium>determine what prevents the user from completing the target action<medium> on the website.

In website development, determining usability should be at the project's concept stage. There is no website yet ― and the logic (UX) should already be worked out. And only then the interface elements (UI) are adjusted to it.

It all starts with researching the target audience

  • who are they;
  • what are their tastes;
  • what are the motives for using the product the website offers;
  • what doubts and fears are associated with its use

All these steps will <medium>form the decision basis<medium> ― what will be the easiest way to convey the business offer, bypassing the fears and eliminating all the doubts the target consumer experiences.

A usability audit is carried out later after the website has been launched. But the main work takes place at the beginning of the project development. So the owner of the future resource saves time, effort, and money by investing them in a working, practical concept based on user experience. If user experience research is carried out after implementation, you risk having to completely rework the project, change the concept and logic of the website steps, and redesign the website.

Resources to help you measure whether your product is user-friendly or not



Complying with usability principles and good UI design are the basic essential of any web project. If the site is difficult to understand and the user cannot find the right information quickly, they will most likely leave and not perform the targeted action you need them in order to start their way in a sales funnel. <medium>Providing a user-friendly interface<medium> is not only an essential part of brand representation but <medium>a milestone on the path to a successful business.<medium>

If you want to create user-friendly interface for your project, Freshcode specialists are always glad to help you. We have been selected as one of the Top UI/UX Design Agencies in London by DesignRush, so you can be sure that your interface will meet all usability standards.

Let`s talk about your project! Please, fill out the form on our website or contact the Freshcode representative on Linkedin.


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