Jakob Nielsen, a renowned web usability consultant and partner in the Nielsen Norman Group, and Rolf Molich, another prominent usability expert, established a list of top ten user interface design guidelines in the 1990s. These guidelines are called User interface design heuristics.
1. Visibility of system status
The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time..and the operation performed should be easy.
2. Match between system and the real world
The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms..Users should follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and sensible order.. so that cognitive strain should be removed and system perform better.
3. User control and freedom
Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Users should support undo and redo actions.
4. Consistency and standards
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing… they should ensure that both graphic elements and terminology are maintained across same platforms. Users should follow platform conventions.
5. Error prevention
Designers should remove the error at first. For this the designing should be done carefully to prevent a problem from occurring in the first place.. Designer should Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.
6. Recognition rather than recall
Interface Designers should minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Due to the limitations of short-term memory designers should ensure users so that they can employ recognition instead of recalling information. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.
7. Flexibility and efficiency of use
Abbrevations , function keys, hidden commands and macro facilities should be used for faster navigations. Accelerators — unseen by the novice user — may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.
8. Aesthetic and minimalist design
Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Keep clutter to a minimum. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility. Therefore display must be reduced to only to the necessary components for the current task.
9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
From designers side error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes) such that it precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution
10. Help and documentation
If the system is used without documentation . it can be accessible. But if necessary documentation is provided then it helps the users to identify the work easily. Users should keep in mind that information should be easily searched. Work should focused on the user’s task and list should be carried out in concrete steps
Jon Wiley, the head designer of Google Search in 2012 once said: “When I think of design and creating great user experiences, I generally think of it in terms of three things: usability, utility and desirability.”
Nielsen and Molich’s 10 user interface guidelines cover these three key components of user experience quite nicely, which means you can likely improve the user experience of your designs by following these guidelines!