Intuitive Design

Your constantly-updated definition of Intuitive Design and collection of videos and articles

What is Intuitive Design?

There is no widely agreed-upon definition of the term “intuitive design.” Rather, intuitive design is used informally to describe designs that are easy to use. So, when a user is able to understand and use a design immediately—that is, without consciously thinking about how to do it—we describe the design as “intuitive.”

While there is no standard definition, some research groups have worked towards building a clearer understanding of the term “intuitive design.” Members of the interdisciplinary research group Intuitive Use of User Interfaces argue that intuition is not a feature of design—instead, intuitive use is a characteristic of the interaction process between a specific user and the design. So, if we are to evaluate whether a design is intuitive, we must also think about who will use the design.

Users will feel that a design is intuitive when it is based on principles from other domains that are well known to them. Designs can therefore provide experiences that seem intuitive to some users but not to others. The aforementioned research group offers the following definition of intuitive use: “A technical system is—in a specific context of a user goal—intuitively usable to the degree the user is able to interact with it effectively by applying knowledge unconsciously.” Here is where the designer’s carefully derived knowledge of the target audience for an item comes into play. By capitalizing on what principles are likely to be present due to the target audience’s culture, industry background, etc., a designer can deliver a product or service that users can take to without having to hesitate and wonder how they can execute an action.

Literature on Intuitive Design

Here’s the entire UX literature on Intuitive Design by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Intuitive Design

Take a deep dive into Intuitive Design with our course How to Create Intuitive Products by Imitating Physicality .

The iPhone, iPad, and other successful Apple products are good examples of how digital and physical design can be woven together, namely through taking something complex and making it intuitive. Not only can users transfer the knowledge they have gained from past experiences between products, but they also can do the same with the contexts in which those products are used (Blackler et al). This creates a need for designers to incorporate intuition into their creations; a great user experience—and ensuing product success—is more and more often the result of a perfectly designed combination of digital and physical dimensions.

This trend can be seen in all types of consumer products from toys to washing machines, which are increasingly becoming both digital and physical. Terms such as “the internet of things” and “smart cities,” as well as technologies such as wearables and self-driven cars, are examples of how the physical-digital divide is getting smaller. The interface and overall experience design of your product can follow the same approach, with your product able to meet users’ needs through intuition and exploration.

The obvious question for a designer is how to design for this ever-growing market and avoid its pitfalls in the process. You cannot, for example, claim a product is intuitive when it’s not—you will lose people’s trust ahead of your next release. In this course, you will learn how to overcome this by making the use of your product “feel right”; better still, you will learn how to incorporate existing knowledge within your designs, thereby making your product intuitive.

All open-source articles on Intuitive Design

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Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF. (2016, August 16). What is Intuitive Design?. Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF.

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