UX laws are a collection of best practices web designers follow when designing websites. Written by scientists and psychologists, these laws act as guidelines to help us build sites that are more initiative and user friendly. They provide us with a deep understanding of what users think and feel when interacting with websites.

But with so many UX laws out there, which ones should I consider?

Here are 5 UX laws we believe you should be aware of

01. Jakob's Law

Named after UX researcher Jakob Nielsen, Jakob's law states that users prefer websites to look and work in the same way. They prefer familiarity. This encourages UX designers to follow common design conventions so users can concentrate on a website's content rather than being concerned about how it works. It implies that uncommon conventions can lead to users becoming confused and frustrated, making them more likely to abandon a website all together.

However, it has been widely shown that by making your website look and act differently from others, you can make it more memorable. But be careful to balance innovation with familiarity.

A great example of the Jakob's Law is scrolling. The standard convention is for users to scroll page downwards. However, some websites adopt horizontal scrolling where the content appears from the right. Whilst this make the website memorable, it can lead to the user being confused.

02. Aesthetic-Usability Effect

The Aesthetic-Usability Effect refers to when something is perceived to be more usable because its considered to be more attractive. In 1995 a study by the Hitachi Design Center tested 26 variations of ATM screens on 252 users. Each was asked to rate the design on ease of use and aesthetic appeal. The study found a link between the ratings of aesthetics and the perceived ease of use. Users were found to be more tolerant of usability issues when they considered the interface to be more appealing. However, this only streched to minor issues as users were less forgiving to larger ones.

03. Peak-End Rule

The Peak-End Rule is a memory bias that claims people generally judge past experiences on how they were at their peak and how it ended. Instead of remembering the whole event, they have a tendency to recall the negative moments over the positive ones. Instead of trying to make every moment enjoyable, we should rather focus on making the peak and end memorable. These emotional peaks can be identified by mapping out the user journey.

04.Fitts Law

In 1954, Psychologist Paul Fitts demonstrated that the distance to and the size of the target affected the error rate. He proved that the larger the target the less time is needed to move to it. The model is widely adopted by UX designers to make educated decisions on the size and placements of elements.

An example of this is the increasing size of buttons on mobile devices.

05. Von Restorff Effect

The Von Restorff Effect, also known as the isolation effect, predicts that when similar items are grouped together, those that differ in size and colour are most likely to be remembered. This theory is commonly used by UX designers as a way of highlighting important information and to make certain elements more appealing.

For example, buttons can be made to look more important than others by simply increasing their size and changing their colour. The Von Restorff Effect is also commonly used on Pricing pages to certain plans more appealing than others.

However, it's important to not solely rely on colour to differentiate objects. According to the Colour Blind Awareness charity, 4.5% of the world's population are colour blind, so be mindful that the colours used in your website should have sufficient contrast to meet WCAG guidelines.

Key takeaways

Following UX laws will greatly improve the user experiences of your website. These guidelines help designers build sites that users feel comfortable with. By focusing the attention on making the end of an experience more memorable, we make it more enjoyable. The more enjoyable it is, the more likely users are to return and tell others.