Mandel: The Golden rules of interface design

May 16, 2011

Place Users in Control

  1. Use modes judiciously (modeless)
  2. Allow users to use either the keyboard or mouse (flexible)
  3. Allow users to change focus (interruptible)
  4. Display descriptive messages and text (Helpful)
  5. Provide immediate and reversible actions, and feedback (forgiving)
  6. Provide meaningful paths and exits (navigable)
  7. Accommodate users with different skill levels (accessible)
  8. Make the user interface transparent (facilitative)
  9. Allow users to customize the interface (preferences)
  10. Allow users to directly manipulate interface objects (interactive)


Reduce Users’ Memory Load

  1. Relieve short-term memory (remember)
  2. Rely on recognition, not recall (recognition)
  3. Provide visual cues (inform)
  4. Provide defaults, undo, and redo (forgiving)
  5. Provide interface shortcuts (frequency)
  6. Promote an object-action syntax (intuitive)
  7. Use real-world metaphors (transfer)
  8. User progressive disclosure (context)
  9. Promote visual clarity (organize)

Make the Interface Consistent

  1. Sustain the context of users’ tasks (continuity)
  2. Maintain consistency within and across products (experience)
  3. Keep interaction results the same (expectations)
  4. Provide aesthetic appeal and integrity (attitude)
  5. Encourage exploration (predictable)

From the chapter ‘The golden rules of interface design’ in: Theo Mandel, ‘The Elements of User Interface Design’, 1997

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