January 31, 2023 Training

Hick’s Law

Amount of time needed to make a choice increase with the number and complexity of choices

Minimize the number of choices in critical situations

Break complex tasks into smaller ones

Make it easier for users by highlighting recommended choices

Be wary of simplifying to the point of abstraction

Fewer choices leads to higher completion rates

Consider maximizers (who want to make the best choice) vs. satisficers (who typically go with the first thing that meets enough of their criteria)

– Satisficers are more confident in making choice and have higher satisfaction rates

Fewer choices can make both types of people more confident in their choice

Jakob’s Law

Users spend most of their time on other sites, so if you want them to stick around on yours, it should work how they expect other sites to

– I hate this!

Users will maintain their expectations for a familiar site with new, similar-looking sites

– So, shouldn’t you just embrace a unique brand identity instead? Like if you’re an Apple repair store, go on ahead looking like Apple! But as general advice? Bah.

Using user’s existing mental models, you can have them focus on the tasks at hand rather than learning new models

Branch new versions to old versions in order to allow users to get used to the transition

Laws of Common Region

Elements within a clearly defined boundary are often perceived into groups

This boundary could be a common region, a border, or a separation of background


– Principles are Proximity, Similarity, Continuity, Closure, and Connectedness

We like to see a whole out of parts, even if it’s not actually there

Emergence – we see the whole before the parts

Reification – our brains fill in the gaps

Multi-Stability – our brains want to avoid uncertainty

Invariance – we’re good at recognizing similarities and differences

Law of Proximity

We think objects proximate to each other are related to each other

We believe elements in proximity to each other share some functionality or trait

Proximity helps users categorize and interact with information more quickly

Similar to law of common region

More gestalt

Law of Prägnanz

People will interpret ambiguous or complicated things in the simplest way possible because it has a lower cognitive load that way

We like to find the simplicity because too much information is overwhelming

We will combine multiple things into a single thing because of this

We can better remember simple things

More gestalt again!

Law of Similarity

We tend to perceive similar elements as one, complete thing, even if they are separated

Similarities are largely visual, like color, shape, size, and orientation

Ensure that links and navigation won’t be lumped in with other items

Gestalt again

Law of Uniform Connectedness

We think that elements that are visually connected are more related than those that aren’t

This can be a literal connection (lines or boxes) or it can’t be an implied connection (timeline or directional arrows)

Be uniform in the same connection between things; differentiate for different connections

Miller’s Law

An average person can only keep 7 (+-2) things in their head at a time

– AP Psych phone numbers thing

7 isn’t a magical number, so it can’t be your only justification

Keep things organized and small so people can understand, process, and remember

One “bit” of information is the minimum info needed to make a decision between two options

– The number of outcomes increases with every bit (decision needed) added (e.g. 1 bit, two options; 4 bits, 16 options)

Chunking (or grouping info we perceive to be related) together increases short-term retention

– Use this to your advantage!

Occam’s Razor

You should prefer the simplest explanation

– This is the simplest explanation

It’s a problem-solving principle that you should pick an explanation with the fewest assumptions

The best way to reduce complexity is to avoid it in the first place (KISS)

Analyze each part and remove as many parts as possible without impacting integrity

Consider completion only when nothing else can be removed

It’s easy to get lost in details, both as a designer and a user, so keep it simple!

Kill your darlings

“Lightweight” designs/code load faster

You risk losing users if something isn’t as simple as possible

Pareto Principle

For many things, 80% of problems come from 20% of causes

The numbers are vaguely accurate

Inputs and outputs are not equal

Focus your attention on what causes the most problems or affects the most people

In a large group of contributors, only a few may contribute meaningfully to the desired outcome

Focus your efforts on the areas with the largest benefits

– Yes, but focusing only on these areas can exclude a large number of people because you’re making assumptions on how someone is interacting with the product

– Use as guidance, not a rule

Parkinson’s Law

Any task will inflate until all available time is spent

Set limits on the time you’re committing (control scope)

Time-saving features, like autofill, prevent task inflation

A lack of boundaries also means a lack of motivation to focus on what’s important

Constraints could be physical (space), monetary, or temporal

Use this understanding to protect what’s most important to you/your product/the outcome