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User-Centered Design by Travis Lowdermilk

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Chapter 7. Design Principles

“People ignore design that ignores people.”

Frank Chimero

Studying others’ work can inspire our creativity, but studying and understanding design principles will protect us from making mistakes. Design principles are the scientific laws of the usability world, much like the laws of gravity and relativity in the world of physics. Design principles are fairly constant and have been crafted over many years from the study of cognition and human behavior. They help us by providing guidance based on humans’ understanding and interpretations of their surroundings.

Having a good grasp of design principles and predictive models can help you effectively critique your work. It’s the perfect language to express what’s right or wrong with a design. Additionally, you can use these principles to educate your users, who often have a hard time expressing what they need. Help them find the right terminology by explaining the meaning of various design principles. It will give you both a common and correct language to work from.

It’s impossible to outline all of the usability principles in this book, since many of them go beyond the scope of our discussion. Consider this a high-level view of some of the most recognizable principles.

Principle of Proximity (Gestalt Principle)

The principle of proximity is one of many principles defined in the Gestalt principles of perception. While you should study all the Gestalt principles, I think the proximity principle has the greatest potential ...

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