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15 Important Usability Principles for User Interface Design

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Have you ever had an app or website that was frustrating to use? Maybe it was hard to find what you were looking for, or the buttons were too small and hard to click on. If so, then you know how important usability is. In this article, we'll be discussing the 15 most important usability principles for user interface design. Let’s get started!

What is Usability?

Website usability is a measure of how easy a website is to use. It includes factors such as the layout of the website, the ease of finding information, the speed of the website, and how confusing the website is. A well-designed website is both visually appealing and easy to use. 

Users should be able to find what they are looking for quickly and without too much difficulty. The layout should be simple and intuitive, and the website should be fast and error-free.

Why is Usability Important?

Website usability is important because it makes your website easier for people to use. When people can easily find the information they need and complete the tasks they came to your website to do, they're more likely to stay engaged and come back in the future. 

Additionally, good website usability can help you achieve your business goals by increasing conversions and sales.

Designing for Usability

When it comes to website usability, there are a few key principles to keep in mind. First, always keep the user in mind. Everything you design should be focused on making the user's experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. Second, make sure your design is visually appealing and easy to navigate. Navigation should be simple and self-explanatory, and your pages should be clutter-free. 

Finally, test your design extensively to make sure it's functioning as intended. Usability testing is a critical part of good web design, it helps you identify and fix any potential issues before they cause major problems for users. Keep these principles in mind, and you're on your way to creating a website that's both user-friendly and visually appealing!

The 15 Principle of Usability

Web usability is about making websites useful for the user. There are 15 key principles:

1. Availability and Accessibility

Always design for availability and accessibility. This means making sure your interface can be accessed and used by everyone, regardless of ability or disability. This includes ensuring buttons and icons are large and easy to see, and that text is easy to read. Navigation should be simple and consistent, and everything should be within reach.

If you're not sure how to make your interface more accessible, consult with an expert or use a resource like the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

2. Clarity

One of the most important usability principles is clarity. This means that your user interface must be easy to understand and use. All of your controls and labels should be easy to spot and decipher, and your instructions should be clear and concise. Don't make your users guess what to do, make everything as obvious as possible. This will help them use your product without any frustration or confusion.

3. Learnability

When designing your user interface, it's important to keep in mind that people will need to be able to learn how to use it quickly. The principle of learnability states that people should be able to learn how to use your interface in a short amount of time. There are a few things you can do to make your interface more learnable: 

  • Make sure all the controls are easy to see and reach.

  • Use clear and concise labels.

  • Use familiar buttons, icons, and design elements.

  • Use instructional text rarely.

4. Credibility

The website or app needs to appear credible to the user. This means that the user interface should be designed in a way that is trustworthy and believable. Users will be more likely to interact with and continue using a website or app that they trust. Some ways to make a website or app more credible are to use.    

  • familiar design elements 

  • avoid slang and jargon  

  • use easy-to-read fonts and text.

5. Relevancy

Relevance is an important concept in usability. It means that the information you provide engages and satisfies users. Your site should provide a high-quality experience that customers cannot find elsewhere, with products, information, and a design that engages them. If a customer searches for kitchen appliances on Google, then finds your website also sells refrigerator-freezers and warmers, it's relevant to both their specific search and your broader product offering.

6. Simplicity

Simplicity Design is a user-friendly interface that simplifies website usage. Achieve it by using user-friendly design elements that people can handle without instructions to simplify their way through every stage of the buying cycle. Advanced simple and consistent design concepts people already know, like clear visuals and navigation structures, to ensure that your website is used in the ways that you want.

Read: 20 Best Ways to Improve Your UI Design Skills

7. Recognition

One of the most important usability principles is recognition. For users to be able to interact with your design, they need to be able to identify and understand all the elements. Make sure all of your buttons, icons, fields, and text are easy to see and separate from one another. 

Use familiar designs and standard labeling practices, so users can easily navigate your interface. And always test your designs on different types of people to make sure everyone can understand them correctly.

8. Feedback

Feedback is one of the most important usability principles for user interface design. As the user interacts with your app or website, it's important to provide feedback, so they know what's happening. This can be in the form of sound, animation, or even just text. If something goes wrong, it's crucial to provide clear and concise feedback, so the user knows how to fix it. For example, if they enter an incorrect password, let them know right away, so they can try again. With clear and effective feedback, users will be able to navigate your app or website with ease and confidence.

9. Flexibility And Efficiency of Use

Everyone has different needs and skills. Equally, every task is unique and requires different controllers. By decluttering the screen and making the app easier to navigate, only relevant UI elements and commands are displayed. Look at apps like Apple Pages or Google Drive apps - when you're writing a document, you see just a few buttons related to text editing. 

But when you decide to add an extra chart, a whole new palette of features specifically curated to help you complete this task appears.

10. Help and documentation

One of the most important usability principles for user interface design is to provide capable help and documentation. This includes both on-screen help and printed documentation. Users should be able to find help when they need it, and it should be easy to understand. 

The help should also be updated as the interface changes so that users always have the most current information.

11. User Control And Freedom

Most of the time, users aren’t highly attentive, nor do they systematically follow instructions. This often results in various problems, like misclicks or even the deletion of important files. As a designer, you should always have an “emergency exit” mechanism in mind, which will let the user go back should something unexpected happen (e.g. accidental misclick).

12. Consistency

A consistent user interface is key to a successful user experience. When users know what to expect from your product, they're able to focus on completing their tasks, rather than figuring out how the product works. Users should be able to complete most tasks with little or no training and should feel comfortable using your product without consulting the help documentation. Consistent design helps reduce user confusion and frustration.

13. Customisability

One of the most important usability principles is customizability. This means making sure that users can easily adapt the user interface to their own needs and preferences. For example, you might want to be able to increase or decrease the font size or adjust the colors to better suit your mood or the task you're undertaking. 

Another way to make your site or app more customizable is by allowing users to save their preferences, so they don't have to keep adjusting things every time they visit. This principle is especially important for sites and apps that are used by a wide range of people, who may have different needs and preferences. So if you're looking to create a truly user-friendly interface, make sure you factor in customisability!

14. Controllability

Controllability is all about giving users the ability to control their interface and the various elements within it. This includes everything from being able to easily select and activate items to being able to adjust settings to suit their needs. Allowing users this level of control makes them feel more in control of their experience and helps them feel like they're using the product, rather than just interacting with it. 

It also helps them feel more confident in their abilities, which can encourage further exploration and use of the product. Our favorite example of controllability in action is Gmail's "undo send" feature it gives users a sense of power and control over their emailing experience, which is something we can all appreciate!

15. Effectivity

The fifteenth principle is Effectivity, which is all about making sure users can complete their desired tasks quickly and easily. The interface should be designed in a way that allows users to interact with it quickly and without any trouble. Place the most important elements in an easily accessible spot, and make sure all buttons and links are easy to see and understand. And, most importantly, test the interface on a variety of users to make sure it's effective for everyone.


Website usability is one of the most important aspects of web design. By following the 15 principles outlined in this article, you can create a website that is both usable and visually appealing. Remember, usability should always be the top priority when designing a website - it is the key to keeping your visitors engaged and converting them into customers.

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