The Principles of User Interface Design

4 min readSep 28, 2021

A bad UI is like an elephant in a room of blind people.

— Vineet Raj Kapoor

A user interface is a medium through which a human being interacts with a machine or computer.

The goal of user interface design (or UI design) is to produce an interface that makes it easy and enjoyable for the user to carry out their desired task.

The principles of User Interface design

For example, it should be straightforward for a customer of a photo-sharing website to upload, organise and share their images.

When done poorly, user interface design can cost companies millions of dollars.

In the case of the large US financial institution, Citibank, a confusing layout on the bank’s debt repayment platform meant a bank employee accidentally sent $500 million to their creditors instead of only their interest payments which totalled $7.8 million. Oops!

Imagine that phone call….

”Hi there, slight problem, I accidentally overpaid our bill by $492.2 million, can we have that money back please?” 😂

As we alluded to earlier in the course, there are many principles to consider when it comes to UI design.

One of the most comprehensive is Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics which are as follows:

#1: Visibility of system status

The design should always keep users informed about what is going on through appropriate feedback within a reasonable amount of time.

E.g. “You Are Here” indicators on mall maps have to show people where they currently are to help them understand where to go next.

#2: Match between system and the real world

The design should speak the users’ language. Use words, phrases, and concepts familiar to the user, rather than internal jargon. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.

E.g. When stovetop controls match the layout of heating elements, users can quickly understand which control maps to which heating element.

#3: User control and freedom


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