Design GUIdelines User Experience (UX) topic overview/definition

Design GUIdelines: Concept Definition

Design guidelines are sets of recommendations towards good practice in design. They are intended to provide clear instructions to designers and developers on how to adopt specific principles, such as intuitiveness, learnability, efficiency, and consistency. Instead of dictating conventions, design guidelines provide helpful advice on how to achieve a design principle that can be platform-specific or cross-platform.

A design guideline (e.g., “text should be easy to read”) sits between a principle in design (e.g., “an interface should be easy to use”) and a standard or rule for implementing it (e.g., “background: white; font-color: black; font-size: 20px”). A design guideline is thus intended to help designers understand how to implement a principle, without restricting their creativity in design, as the commanding inflexibility of a rule might.

Design guidelines emerge from various sources. Some have their foundations in basic common sense—despite that, they often get violated. Others are grounded in our understanding of human cognition, or are results of a particular empirical study or collections of studies. Still others are derived from theories of human action. Due to the varied sources and viewpoints from which these originate, some guidelines may conflict, particularly when applied under different contexts of design (e.g., designing for older users vs. for younger users). For this reason, design guidelines are not as generalizable as design principles. The disparity and incompleteness of design guidelines stem from our lack of one unifying theory of interaction—such a theory would probably require a complete understanding of human cognition, a commodity which designers may continue to strive for in the foreseeable future. Consequently, a designer’s discretion must continue to drive the interpretation of such guidelines so as to optimize the user experience of a product.

For your convenience, we’ve collected all UX literature that deals with Design GUIdelines. Here’s the full list: