laws of ux

by Luke Farrugia • 14 August 2020


Recently, the Laws of UX website has been making the rounds in the digital design community. And when this beautiful recourse reached the duel of doves space yesterday, it took me a moment to get into it. But as I read through the laws, and allowed them to sink in, I started to see quite a range of thought-provoking ideas and principals. At first, in my honest opinion, some of these laws felt a little repetitious and obvious. But as I step outside of myself and think about what these laws represent I can start to see that they are a fantastic reminder, that can keep us honest when we are lost in the weeds of a problem space. Giving us the push we need to keep us on-point and thorough in our delivery. 

Plus, these are a great representation of how our user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) decisions impact our users and how necessary our methodical process can be. Further displaying the close connection, UX plays with the UI and how they both have a direct impact on the usability, memorability and the overall success of a digital product.

In short, the Laws of UX is a collection of the maxims and principles that designers can consider when thinking through an experience and building user interfaces. Jon Yablonski created this set, and you can see more detail at the official site

The Laws of UX, by Jon Yablonski:
  1. Aesthetic Usability Effect: Users often perceive aesthetically pleasing design as design that's more usable.
  2. Doherty Threshold: Productivity soars when a computer and its users interact at a pace (<400ms) that ensures that neither has to wait on the other.
  3. Fitts's Law: The time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target.
  4. Hick's Law: The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices.
  5. Jakob's Law: Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.
  6. Law of Common Region: Elements tend to be perceived into groups if they are sharing an area with a clearly defined boundary.
  7. Law of Prägnanz: People will perceive and interpret ambiguous or complex images as the simplest form possible, because it is the interpretation that requires the least cognitive effort of us.
  8. Law of Proximity: Objects that are near, or proximate to each other, tend to be grouped together.
  9. Law of Similarity: The human eye tends to perceive similar elements in a design as a complete picture, shape, or group, even if those elements are separated.
  10. Law of Uniform Connectedness: Elements that are visually connected are perceived as more related than elements with no connection.
  11. Miller's Law: The average person can only keep 7 (plus or minus 2) items in their working memory.
  12. Occam's Razor: Among competing hypotheses that predict equally well, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
  13. Pareto Principle: The Pareto principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
  14. Parkinson's Law: Any task will inflate until all of the available time is spent.
  15. Peak-End Rule: People judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak and at its end, rather than the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.
  16. Postel's Law: Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send.
  17. Serial Position Effect: Users have a propensity to best remember the first and last items in a series.
  18. Teslet's Law: Tesler's Law, also known as The Law of Conservation of Complexity, states that for any system there is a certain amount of complexity which cannot be reduced.
  19. Von Restorff Effect: The Von Restorff effect, also known as The Isolation Effect, predicts that when multiple similar objects are present, the one that differs from the rest is most likely to be remembered.
  20. Zeigarnik Effect: People remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

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