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The 4 Golden Rules of UI Design

In this article, you will read about the 4 golden rules of UI design which can help you improve your designing game.

User interface is the first thing a user interacts with while using a product. It is the first impression of the product.

To give a good first impression, user interface has to be designed properly. A good UI design can make a product while a bad design can break it.

If you know the rules of a game, you can plan and play it better which also follows for UI Design.

The basics of UI and UX design

Almost all the designers follow some or the other design rules for guiding them through the process and designing user friendly UI.

A UX Architect and writer Nick Babich shared ‘The 4 golden rules of UI design‘ in an Adobe blog post.

These rules are a collective knowledge of the following- 10 usability heuristics for UI design by Jakob Nielsen, Principles of Interaction Design by Bruce Tognazzini and The Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design by Ben Shneiderman.

The 4 golden rules of UI design are as follows-

Now let’s learn what each of these rules is and how they can be used to design a better UI.

UI rules#1 Place user in control of interface

The 4 Golden Rules of UI Design - UI rules#1 Place user in control of interface
The 4 Golden Rules of UI Design – UI rules#1 Place user in control of interface

In this UI rule, we need to design the interface in such a way that users feel confident while using it.

Give them an ‘Undo’ or ‘Go Back’ option at each important step so that any mistake can be easily reversed.

This will allow the user to explore the product without any worry of making irreversible mistakes.

Provide crystal clear navigation so that the user doesn’t feel lost at any stage in the interface.

Use menus, titles or breadcrumbs to keep the user informed of the area they are visiting in the interface.

10 mistakes every UI/ UX designer makes

The user should get a response after every action to indicate that the action has been successfully performed.

For example, Getting a message like ‘Payment has been successful’ after paying for something online.

In absence of such information, the user might feel worried and need to re-check again and again. Provide hints to the users wherever required.

Design a transparent system where the user knows whatever is happening.

Show the loading, uploading, downloading or any other statuses to keep the users informed.

Lastly, design keeping in mind the beginner and expert users such that none have to compromise.

All type of users should be able to gain equal benefit from the system.

UI rules#2 Make it comfortable to interact with the product

The 4 Golden Rules of UI Design - UI rules#2 Make it comfortable to interact with the product
The 4 Golden Rules of UI Design – UI rules#2 Make it comfortable to interact with the product

This among the UI design rules aims towards designing a clean interface. Remove any functionality or data which is not useful or is confusing for the user.

Optimize your product by removing any duplicate or repeated functionality. Don’t make users enter same information again and again.

Use language and terms which can be easily understood by everyone. Make the content readable and legible.

Keep the important elements at easily reachable and noticeable places.

The size of important elements should be bigger such that they are easy to locate and interact with.

Keep in mind the differently-abled users like the color blind, blind or deaf while designing your product.

Use the real-world examples in your design as users are already familiar with that.

Provide solutions and guidance for any error that the user might encounter while using the interface.

Make sure that the user’s work is saved properly in case of any unavoidable circumstances.

UI rules#3 Reduce cognitive load

The 4 Golden Rules of UI Design - UI rules#3 Reduce cognitive load
The 4 Golden Rules of UI Design – UI rules#3 Reduce cognitive load

This is very important among the 4 golden rules of UI design. It talks about cognitive load in humans.

Cognitive load is the mental pressure a user feels while using a product.

The aim of a good product is to minimize the cognitive load on a user. We can reduce cognitive load by dividing bigger information into pieces.

This can be achieved with the help of George Miller’s theory of chunking which says that humans can remember just 7+-2 chunks of information at a time.

The number of steps required to achieve a task can also be reduced and optimized.

Display information in such a way that the users can easily recognize things from their past experiences and don’t have to recall anything.

Properly organize the information to improve efficiency of the product such that users are quickly able to reach important information.

UI rules#4 Make the user interface consistent

The 4 Golden Rules of UI Design - UI rules#4 Make the user interface consistent
The 4 Golden Rules of UI Design – UI rules#4 Make the user interface consistent

This is the last rule of the 4 golden rules of UI design. Consistency in UI makes sure that the elements look and function in the same way throughout the product.

This makes the user feel confident and less confused about the interface.

The interface should have similar visual style throughout like the color schemes and typography (serif/san serif). Similar elements should look and behave in the same way.

This rule of UI design can improve the usability of the product as users will be easily able to recognize and use the elements.

Give people what they expect out of your product. Don’t try to surprise them as it might turn into a shock.

Maintain consistency with the design conventions and user expectations. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel as it might backfire.


I hope know you have understood the 4 golden rules of UI design. Following these UI rules you can design a better interface for the users.

You have to make sure that each and every decision you take should be in the favor of the user and towards the betterment of the product.

Remember what Frank Chimero said? “People ignore the design which ignores people“.

So, to make the users use your product, you have to design it in such a way that they can actually use it. It sounds very simple but most people don’t get it.

Always keep in mind these 4 golden rules of UI design and you will automatically design better than most people.


What are the golden rules for user interface design?

The 4 golden rules of UI design are –
1) Place user in control of interface
2) Make it comfortable to interact with the product
3) Reduce cognitive load
4) Make the user interface consistent


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