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80:20 Rule

The 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) means that 80% of results in a system or process come from 20% of the work. For UX design, this might mean 80% of users use 20% of features or 20% of code causes 80% of errors.

A/B Testing

A/B testing or split testing refers to testing two versions of something (e.g. a product feature, website, or landing page) to assess user responses and see which version performs better.


Accessibility looks at whether a product or service can be easily used by all users, no matter their disabilities


An affordance indicates how something operates just by looking at it. For example, a light switch is an affordance as a user assumes the switch will turn on the light. Affordances can be found in both physical and digital products.


Agile is a project management and software development approach. A set of efficient practices, it means to create and respond quickly to change and deliver the best results in a short amount of time.


Also known as focalism bias, anchoring means to rely heavily on a single piece of information or event (aka your anchor) to make decisions.


Anti-patterns are frequently-used design solutions (e.g. moving page elements on a website) that either don’t work for the user or hinder productivity.

Atomic Design

Atomic design is a popular methodology made up of five elements -- atoms, molecules, organisms, templates, and pages -- to build effective interface design systems.


Bias refers to only paying attention to information that matches your beliefs or worldview. You toss out conflicting information. Users and designers alike are often unaware of their own biases.

Blue Team

The blue team refers to the product or discovery team -- UX researchers, project managers, designers, developers, etc. The blue team presents designs to the red team to get critical feedback.


Stuck in your design process? Brainstorming (e.g. writing down ideas on paper) is an informal idea generation technique to help you think outside the box and come up with new ideas to design problems.


A call-to-action is an element designed to elicit certain actions from your user. For example, it might be an interactive UI call-to-action button on an app that says “Purchase” or copy on a website “Click Here” that links to another page.

Card Sorting

Card sorting is a research method where participants organize topics into groups using individual labels and notecards. This technique ensures that the structure of topics make sense to the end user and not just the designer.


You want to avoid overwhelming your user. Chunking - the practice of breaking down information into smaller, digestible categories or “chunks” - is one way to ensure that your user better processes, understands, and retains info.

Cognitive Bias

Cognitive bias refers to how people perceive the world based on their personal experiences and background. The way information is presented can also create cognitive bias, influencing someone’s decisions or actions. For example, maybe you’re conducting a website usability study and inform users that you’ll be recording their interactions with your website. This information might cause bias with users as they try to avoid making mistakes and don’t act naturally with the site.

Cognitive Load

In the design world, cognitive load refers to your user’s processing power or their mental effort to use a product or service. You want the cognitive load to be as low as possible by making the product or service easy to understand and use.

Color Theory

Color theory is the set of rules used to design powerful color combinations that are pleasing to the user’s eyes. Color theory is both a science and art.


Users need a consistent experience with a product, service or website so they don’t get confused or need to re-learn a process. Consistency -- or ensuring something always behaves the same -- ensures a user-friendly design.


Users need a consistent experience with a product, service or website so they don’t get confused or need to re-learn a process. Consistency -- or ensuring something always behaves the same -- ensures a user-friendly design.


Convergence is the act of everything and everyone on the team coming together (from research to data) to create a product or prototype.

Dark Patterns

A dark pattern is a subtle user interface designed to push users into doing something they may not want to do or hiding key elements from them.For example, the “Unsubscribe” button might be hidden within a website, making it difficult for a user to quit the service. Beware of dark patterns, even unintentional ones, as this can build mistrust with the user.

Data, Qualitative

Qualitative data is data that’s written out as observations rather than numerically. Examples of qualitative data include interview statements and thoughts from field studies. Qualitative data helps you understand the “why” behind certain actions or ideas.

Data-Driven Design

Data-driven design is design that is powered by data (e.g. surveys, tracking analytics, usability tests) and helps a designer objectively understand the user.

Design Pattern

A design pattern is a repeatable solution -- a template or description -- to a common problem. Examples include specific wireframes, sign-in options, and content structuring.

Design System

Directional Research

Directional research are quick experiments used to answer one specific usability question or hypothesis to create a better product feature.


The opposite of convergence, divergence is the act of researching, analyzing, and designing independently rather than as a group.

Double Diamond

The double diamond is a two-diamond diagram that helps you visualize the entire creative design process and break down challenges into four phases: Discover/Research, Define/Synthesis, Develop/Ideation, Deliver/Implementation.


Want to know how users interact or struggle with designs in their everyday lives? Ethnography -- the study of observing users in their natural environment rather than in a controlled setting -- can help you solve real-world problems.

Evaluative Research

Evaluative research or evaluation research is the process of evaluating solutions during the design process and ensuring that solutions meet the needs of the user.

Eye Tracking

Eye tracking is a usability testing technique that reviews where the user’s eyes go when viewing a web page.


Findability refers to how easy it is for a user to find information or content on a webpage. Maybe you’re a user who wants to read more blog content about UX design. Findability would help ensure you could easily find related content such as through a “Related Posts” button.

Fitts’ Law

According to Fitts’ Law, the greater the distance between a pointer to a target area and the smaller the target size, the longer it takes to reach the target area. In relation to design, this means that buttons normally need to be bigger rather than smaller and the distance between the target area and button should be as short as possible.

Five Hat Racks

According to Fitts’ Law, the greater the distance between a pointer to a target area and the smaller the target size, the longer it takes to reach the target area. In relation to design, this means that buttons normally need to be bigger rather than smaller and the distance between the target area and button should be as short as possible.

Flexibility-Usability Tradeoff

This design principle states that, as the flexibility of a system increases, its usability decreases.

Fogg’s Behavior Model

The Fogg Behavior Model is a framework. It shows that a user only takes action when three elements -- Motivation, Ability, and a Prompt -- converge or happen simultaneously.

Foundational Research

Also known as pathfinding or exploratory research, foundational research hones in on problems that haven’t yet been clearly defined and seeks to learn more about the user such as their thoughts, pain points, and goals.

General Access

When there are no restrictions on who has access to features and experiences.

Gestalt Laws of Continuation

This law states that continuity happens when the human eye is drawn from one object to another. Think of tabs or dropdown menus.

Gestalt Laws of Grouping

A basic psychological principle, Gestalt Laws of Grouping refers to a set of principles that show how humans naturally perceive objects to be part of organized patterns or forms. Principles fall into five categories: proximity, similarity, continuity, closure, consistency, and connectedness.

Gestalt Laws of Proximity

According to Gestalt Laws of Proximity, objects are often considered to be related when they are close together. If objects are farther apart, they are considered to be unrelated.

Graceful Degradation

Graceful degradation refers to building websites or apps that work on modern browsers while still ensuring functionality on older browsers and app versions.


A grid is a structure used to design content. Grids help designers create consistent patterns and balanced visuals as they know where to place elements.

Heuristic Evaluation

A heuristic evaluation helps you test a website’s usability to see if it’s user-friendly. Instead of being tested by actual users, a heuristic evaluation is run by usability experts.

Hick’s Law

According to Hick’s Law, users will take longer to make a decision if they are presented with too many choices.

High Fidelity

In terms of prototyping, high fidelity means that the product looks finished (even if it’s not). A high-fidelity prototype helps designers conduct usability tests since users act naturally because they feel like they’re interacting with the real product.

Hook Model

The Hook Model is a four-part framework showing how to hook users and build habit-changing products. The four steps include Trigger, Action, Variable Reward and Investment.

Information Architecture

Information architecture (IA) isn’t visible to the end user, but it helps you organize and structure a product or webpage so that it’s easy for the end user to find what they need and complete tasks.


An insight is where you research unmet needs and share during the design process. Unlike a simple observation, an insight in design requires a bit more work. You set the context, communicate the dilemma, capture the motivation, articulate the whyenvision the ideal An insight statement is where you concisely explain why something happened the way it did based on the above five principles.

Iterative Design

Iterative design is a design approach to help you improve your product over time. You test and evaluate the product at all different stages until you’ve weeded out the usability flaws.

Job Stories

Job stories are narratives that stem from peoples’ real life experiences rather than a persona. An element of the JBTD framework, job stories help you determine why a user wants something done a certain way.


Also known as JBTD, the jobs-to-be-done framework helps designers identify unmet user needs or jobs they want done and create products that they’ll want to purchase.

KISS Principle

“Keep it simple, stupid,” is the motto of the KISS principle. This term means that designs and systems should embrace simplicity instead of complexity.


Kairos is a Greek word that means “the supreme moment.” For designers, Kairos means to take advantage of or create the perfect moment to tailor designs to your user’s needs.

Kano Model

The Kano model helps you identify the most important features of designs or products based on the level of user satisfaction with each one. According to the Kano model, you should organize features by five categories: Basic, Performance/Satisfiers, Excitement/Delighters, Indifferent attributes, and Reverse attributes.


Laddering is an interview technique to learn more about the user experience. Laddering involves digging deeper into a user’s response to uncover why something is important to them, what a product’s feature means to them, etc. Interviews are broken down by topic or ladder rung.

Law of Triviality

According to Parkinson’s Law of Triviality, humans tend to focus on trivial or unimportant details while important matters are overlooked. This term is also known as “bikeshedding.”


Leading is a typography and User Interface term. It refers to the distance or space between two lines. Leading or spacing is important for readability.


Learnability is the quality of something like a web page or product being easy for users to learn.

Legibility vs. Readability

Legibility and readability both relate to how easy it is for a user to read a certain typeface. However, legibility refers to the actual shape and design of typeface while readability is the arrangement of fonts and words.

Low Fidelity

Low fidelity is another prototyping term. It means that a prototype is simple or low-tech. Low fidelity prototypes are often simply drawn on paper and don’t look like a finished product.


Mapping is a method to visualize the users' needs, expectations, wants, and potential route to reach a specific goal. For example, a user experience map illustrates the entire customer journey with a product.

Mental/Conceptual Models

Mental or conceptual models refer to how a user believes a user experience should work based on their past experiences with similar products.

Miller’s Law

Want to know the magical number in UX design? According to Miller’s Law, an average person’s memory can hold seven objects, plus or minus two. This means that you shouldn’t give your user too much information or choices.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A minimum viable product or MVP is a product that has just enough features to be considered a working model. An MVP helps designers understand what additional features a user needs. Designers can then eventually create the polished, fully-featured product.

Mobile-First Design

Mobile-first design starts with designing websites that work seamlessly on mobile devices. This approach starts on the smallest screen before moving up to larger ones to create the best experience possible for the end user.

Modular Scale

A modular scale is a sequence of numbers that relate to each other in a positive way. In terms of typography, a modular scale means that you pick sizes that are visually pleasing to the eye.

Multivariate Testing

Multivariate testing is similar to A/B testing. However, instead of testing only two versions of a design to see which performs better, you test at least two modified variables (e.g. buttons on a website) to validate a design hypothesis.

Native App

A native app is an app that only runs on one mobile operating system. For example, if you have a native app that runs on iOS, it won’t work on Windows or Android. You’ll have to develop the app for these operating systems for it to work.


Navigation design provides a set of actions (e.g. navigation menus) that guide your user and make it easy for them to navigate your design.

Object Oriented Design

According to Object Oriented Design, humans think in terms of objects. Design models should therefore create a system of interacting objects for users that are naturally intuitive.

Ockham’s Razor

Ockham's Razor dates back to the 14th century. According to this principle, a simple explanation is better than a complex one. In design terms, a user should be able to complete an action or task with minimum steps required.

Paper Prototyping

Paper prototyping is exactly how it sounds. You sketch out your design prototype on paper before creating digitally. This user-centered design method is a quick way to develop and flesh out ideas.

Participatory Design

Participatory Design is a design approach that involves target users in the process (aka co-designers) to ensure that the end product or design meets their needs.

Peak-End Rule

Another cognitive bias, the Peak-End Rule states that humans judge an experience based on how they felt at its peak and its end (whether positive or negative). This rule also suggests that, because of this, humans don’t remember experiences accurately.


Personas are fictional characters or end-users you create based on your research. These personas help you understand your user’s goals, experiences, needs, and behaviors.

Primary Research

Primary research is the act of conducting first-hand research like interviews, surveys, and usability tests to generate new data. It's the opposite of secondary research which involves collecting and analyzing existing information.


Design principles are sets of values that guide the design process. Examples of good design principles include meeting the user’s needs, focusing on usability, and using simple language.

Privacy Design

Privacy design considers privacy issues from the beginning of development to the end and ensures that your systems are designed in such a way that your user’s privacy is protected. One example is using language that’s easy to understand for your website’s privacy policy.

Problem Space

The problem space is where the pain points and unmet needs of your target users are. In the problem space, you seek to answer the question: “Am I solving the right problem?”

Product Design

Product design is the process of designing, developing, launching, and improving a product that solves a user problem. Product Design encompasses UX Design, Visual Design, Design Thinking methods, and frameworks to get a product from idea to production.

Progressive Disclosure

Progressive disclosure is a design pattern that moves complex or rarely used options and features to secondary screens to avoid overwhelming the user.

Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping is the process of quickly mocking up an interface or design to test how end-users and stakeholders interact with it.


The reciprocity principle states that humans reciprocate kind or positive behavior. In terms of design, users will be more likely to return a favor (e.g. leave a website review) if you’ve provided clear value or required very little of them.

Recognition over recall

Recognition means that a user recognizes a concept through previous knowledge and experience (or the context). Recall refers to a user retrieving information in their brain through learning and practice. Recognition over Recall states that users have an easier time recognizing information rather than recalling it.

Red team

Remember the blue team (aka UX researchers, project managers, designers, and developers)? The red team is also a team of experts, but they know nothing about your design. After you pitch your design and research, the red team’s job is to point out flaws and why your product might not work. This approach helps create a better end product.

Responsive Web Design (RWD)

Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web development that ensures a website responds or is easily accessible no matter what type of device is being used.


A retrospective is a design meeting where team members discuss past work and processes and how they can better work together to make improvements.


Satisficing is decision-making strategy where designers research possible solutions to a problem until they find one that’s “good enough.” In other words, satisficing is settling for a solution, rather than searching for the best possible one.


Searchability is the ability to find additional information by using known information. Well-written website copy, search bars, and links to related content can improve searchability for the user. Thanks to this approach, the user has a general idea of where to search for something.

Secondary Research

Unlike primary research which generates new data, secondary research involves collecting and analyzing existing information from books, studies, and articles. This research is intended to support your design ideas and primary research.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio

The signal-to-noise ratio or SNR is the ratio of relevant to irrelevant information in your design. A higher signal-to-noise ratio means that the message of your design will be easier for your user to understand.


Also known as a user flow map, a sitemap is a website or app diagram that shows how pages will be structured to create better information architecture (IA).

Social Proof

Social proof refers to the human tendency of making decisions based on the experiences of others. Social proof (e.g. the number of likes on Facebook) offers credibility to your design or product.


A design sprint is a fast-paced, five-day process to answer critical design questions, ideate, sketch ideas, prototype, and validate or test the design.

System Mapping

A system map illustrates all artefacts (e.g. a website), actors (e.g. the end user) and their relationship to a product or design in a single frame.

The Fold

The fold simply refers to the bottom of the screen. Above-of-the-fold is the content that fills the screen and is what a user sees when they look at your website. You want any content above-the-fold to capture your user’s attention.

The ‘Good Enough’ Principle

The ‘Good Enough’ principle says that users don’t look for perfection. Instead, they’ll use products or designs that are good enough (aka meet their needs) even though better options might be available.\

Think-Aloud Protocol

The think-aloud protocol is a method practiced in usability tests. As users test a system, you ask them to “think aloud” or verbalize their thoughts to get a better understanding of how they interact with the system.


Tokens are pieces of an interface. Tokens can include spaces, animations, colors, typography and more. Each token is given a name and ensures that design teams can easily collaborate and create a consistent brand experience.

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