Some random UX guidelines

As I begin to ponder starting with a new company, I have been dreaming about the UX mainstays I have built into my philosophy over the years.  I imagine having each principle printed on a single page.  Here are a few in no particular order:  (I’ll post more over time)

  • Modal dialogs on top of modal dialogs is lame. I’ve seen modal on top of modal on top of modal in the past.  Each layer is worse than the previous.  Try and limit yourself to just one modal layer.
  • Mouse Targets should be as big as possible. People have poor fine motor skills.  Make sure that buttons, menus, expanders in trees and other controls have a nice big target.  Don’t make the user cramp their hands trying to put the mouse over a 10px square.
  • Text should be big. Users over 40 have short range eyesight issues.  All users, even younger ones, have trouble paying attention.  People write too much happy talk.  By designing big text you are solving all of these problems in one fell swoop.  Force brevity and let people easily see the text.
  • 3D is good.  Make your app feel like a physical thing.  Buttons should feel embossed and clickable.  Draggables should look grabbable.  Shadows, corners, fades, these are all part of making something look real.  Real is comfortable.  Make your application affordances look like real world affordances and people will love you for it.
  • Use the big 5. Menus, Buttons, Drag and Drop, Right Click and Keyboard shortcuts.  Allow the user to use all of them in your application.  It works on many levels.
  • Consistency makes people comfortable.  Don’t invent new patterns if the old one will work fine.  Consistency is more important than perfection.  Make sure that once an idiom is learned, that the user can repeat that gesture everywhere.  Repeat gesture patterns everywhere.
  • Don’t be afraid to be silly. People like friendly applications.  Don’t feel like you need to be “professional”.  Be silly sometimes, as long as it doesn’t screw up the use case.  People will be more loyal if they think you are human.  (As opposed to a corporate robot)

I can think of others, but this is a good start.

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