Laws of UX to keep in mind

  • 26 / 04 / 2023
  • Alicja Graczyk
Laws of UX to keep in mind

As nature laws apply to the whole planet Earth, User Experience laws apply to the whole online world. Across the globe, all web designers follow the same rules to make the internet more accessible and friendly. Why? These principles are universal and can highly improve human interaction with all kinds of online content, from websites to mobile applications. Hence, for you – dear publisher – it’s crucial to implement them in your content creation process. Now get familiar with the most important UX laws!

UX laws

Everything started in 1990 when computer scientist Jakob Nielsen created practical principles, often called “Nielsen’s 10 heuristics” or “Usability Heuristics”. These principles guide professionals involved in usability projects to this day. Since they were created, many more UX laws have been introduced. What’s the reason behind that? Well, good outcomes are often the results of following well-thought-out guidelines. And if it works for almost everybody, why not apply them in your case?

Nowadays, the online world is over-saturated with millions of websites, mobile apps, products, and services, and that’s why – in order to succeed – you have to stand out from your competitors! By that, we mean exceeding them in terms of delivering credible and easy-to-read texts and well-designed layouts of your website or mobile app. Surprisingly, to put yourself ahead of the opponents, and “stick out”, it’s essential to know some general laws and apply them accordingly. After all, even to break the rules (in a wise way), you have to know them first!

“Match between the system and the real world”

The second heuristic of Jakob Nielsen is the best take-off to the UX world for all digital publishers, as it’s heavily implemented at the stage of content creation. To “match between the system and the real world” means, among others, to speak your user’s language and use an appropriate tone of voice. Just think of a person you are potentially writing to. Try to ask questions about their behavior, background, and maybe even system of beliefs. Are they a professional in our field of interest, or will they likely not understand the complicated jargon? Once you know that, adjusting to your audience’s needs is way more seamless.

Moreover, even though people generally spend more and more time online, most of our life still happens offline. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider day-to-day life of our users, their habits, and even various important festive or religious events. For instance, what would be the point of launching Easter-related content during Christmastime? If you’re not trying to make people hang eggs next to stocking on their chimneys, then I don’t really know!

Jakob’s Law

Internet users visit dozens of different websites and apps daily, and they likely spend most of their time in places other than your corner of the web. And that’s what Jakob’s Law states. From the fourth heuristic, we can learn that it’s not wise to “reinvent the wheel” but follow some conventions to avoid a situation in which users are forced to learn new things in order to receive your content.


It’s crucial to avoid forcing users to perform unknown tasks because once they don’t have to put additional time and energy into that, they can focus on the actual purpose of why they visited your website or mobile app. There are some general tendencies that are a fruit of people’s preferences. For example, you’ve probably noticed that most online recipes start with a list of ingredients, even though the most important part is the recipe itself. It’s because, from the perspective of good UX practices, people want to know upfront if they can cook that dish or if they’ll have to do groceries first. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to break with that “tradition” and give users a bad experience. Sadly, people tend to remember unfortunate events better than good ones, so it’s really important to be cautious with your projects!

Serial Position Effect

It’s a great example of cognitive bias, which is just a systematic error – a pattern caused by the human brain when we are processing and interpreting the world around us. The Serial Position Effect occurs when people scroll or read through your content. What’s crucial to notice here is that they tend to remember the first and last items in a series. So, now you know where to put the most impactful information, critical data, or vital CTAs (i.e. buttons and statements calling users to take certain actions). What’s intriguing is that there are more cognitive biases related to content creation out there; read our article “Website’s most attention-catching areas” to learn about some of them.

Postel’s Law

In brief, this law states that we should be flexible about what we accept and conservative with what we provide. From a UX point of view, it usually means accepting various inputs, for instance, in the contact form, like those with mixed lower and upper case letters. Similarly, considering comment section moderation, we ought to be liberal when accepting them (as long as they are not a serious violation of our rules), because letting your audience speak their mind is one of the great ways to build strong relations with users. However, when it comes to our own content, we should be very strict with it and pay particular attention to its correctness. It’s worth keeping in mind to always double-check your sources of information, spelling, and general image of what you intend to publish, to avoid eventual mistakes, typos, and every other unwanted thing that might make users perceive you and what you create as unprofessional or messy.


Pareto Principle

It’s the 20% of your efforts that will bring 80% of the desired effects – and 80% of your work may end up with bringing only 20% of satisfactory results. What does it mean and what to do with that knowledge? It simply lets you invest your vital efforts, time, and energy into what actually matters in order to deliver the highest quality right there. For instance, you may want to analyze your main sources of website traffic. If you notice the great majority comes from your Facebook page, probably there’s some reason behind that! So now, you may wonder whether it makes sense to simultaneously work on time-consuming strategies and materials for TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube or if it is a better idea to focus on Facebook entirely and engage even more people there!

Doherty Threshold

Since 1982, following the published article in the IBM Systems Journal, the standard time for a computer response is 400 milliseconds. That’s why it is necessary to optimize websites, apps, and basically anything you create for the big wide web. When unoptimized, it might take too long to load; and consequently, users will probably leave before even getting a chance to see what you have to offer. Check out what should be optimized on your website to improve its performance. When it comes to monetization, though, the good news is that all the processes leading to displaying a well-tailored ad in programmatic advertising take several dozen milliseconds. Luckily, on the internet, there is no speed limit!


Summing up

How is it possible that there is a set of rules that relates to thousands of products, websites, and apps from different industries that address totally different subjects? As humans and as a society, we tend to have similar behavior patterns, ways of thinking, and perceiving the world surrounding us. Professionals in the field of UX have just been observing users and have drawn conclusions. Thanks to them, publishers can verify their creations to meet their audience’s expectations. In the end, considering User Experience can only lead to great things. How your audience feels can seriously influence traffic and, in the end, your ad revenue. There are obviously various ways to boost your earnings, but just focus on your content and don’t worry about it – as your partner in monetization, we will certainly help you with that!

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