UX Basics

A friend asked if I could perform a UX review of his new software package currently in development, Basics, basically. But still important. Training is a big part of the review; aiming to become obsolete. Actually, as they grow into the topic, I can support them on next level topics, which makes it interesting for all of us. The below images/story is how I explained the basics in UX/UI (see UX Basic cheat sheet). Let me know what you think.

Most basic objective of good UX/UI is the ambition to help the user find her way and move around safely.

  • ORIENTATION – Where am I? What is my current situation? Anchoring in the now, not only location (as in, what page) but also status and overall situation.
  • POSSIBILITIES – What can I do here? What are my options, what are the functions. Also, how do I move forward, how do I operate, what are the next steps to get where I am aiming to get?
  • SAFETY – How can I get where I want to go and back again, safely. How do I make sure that I arrive in one piece and get back again, not losing any data on the way, loose any of my ambition and motivation etc. Also, where and how can I get help in case I do get in a difficult situation.

The human perceptual system is how we communicate with the user, and the Gestalt principles are are good basis to guide us in making sure the interface is informative and effective. The basic Gestalt principles are listed below.

Gestalt Principles


  • CLOSURE; We tend to see incomplete or partly covered figures as complete. Despite the fact that the figures in the image is incomplete, people will still recognize a football.
  • COMMON REGION; Common region or common fate: We group elements that (static) are in the same closed region, or dynamic, that move in the same direction (e.g. a flock of birds flying).
  • PROXIMITY; When everything else is equal, elements that are closer together are seen as a group.
  • SIMILARITY; All else being equal, elements that look similar are seen as the same object and elements that look different as as part of a different object.
  • FIGURE/GROUND; This principle is all about recognizing the distinction between figure and (back)ground. In the example, most people will recognize a white square on a black background and vice versa.
  • CONTINUITY; Our brain will see a path in elements which have been grouped in a certain way and will expect the path to continue in its general direction.

  • REAL WORLD GROUNDED; recommended is to ground UX/IU behaviour in real world dynamics. The real world is what we are familiar with, which makes it easier to anticipate behaviour and we find the interaction intuitive.
  • FORGIVING; We all make mistakes. By making sure the interface is forgiving, error tolerant, users more freely explore and use, and have a more pleasurable experience.
  • VISUAL; make it visual. Do not rely on what people know or remember, but what people can perceive, can see.

Human perception is much more refined and complex (see here) but these are good basics to start with. In fact, most if not all of the issues I found during my review could be linked back to one or several of the above. Did I miss anything?

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