CN09 - The Psychological Basis for UI Design Rules

Jeff Johnson, UI Wizards

UI design rules, guidelines, and heuristics are not simple recipes to be applied mindlessly. Applying them effectively requires determining their applicability and precedence in specific situations. It also requires balancing the trade-offs that inevitably arise in situations when design rules appear to contradict each other. By understanding the psychological basis for UI design rules, designers and evaluators enhance their ability to interpret and apply them. This course explains the underlying psychology.

New, based on content from an HCI course taught in 2006.

Describes and demonstrates aspects of human perception and cognition:

  • Factors that bias human perception
  • People seek (and find) structure in everything (Gestalt principles of visual perception)
  • Limitations on color perception
  • Factors affecting text legibility
  • Users don't think deeply about the computer or software
  • Human memory (short and long-term) is imperfect and requires support
  • Recognition is easier than recall
  • Induction is easy; deduction is hard
  • Human thought-cycle: form goal, execute, evaluate
  • Human real-time requirements

Software designers and developers of all experience levels. Also: Q/A engineers,usability testers, and managers.

Lecture, brief demonstrations, Q&A.

Instructor background:
Jeff Johnson is Principal Consultant at UI Wizards, a product usability consulting firm. He has worked in HCI since 1978. After earning B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in cognitive psychology from Yale and Stanford, he worked as a UI designer/implementer, usability tester, manager, and researcher at Cromemco, Xerox, US West, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun. Since 1996 he has been a consultant and an author. He has published numerous articles and chapters on HCI. He wrote the books GUI Bloopers, Web Bloopers, and GUI Bloopers 2.0.

Instructor website: