7 UX Laws you’re Probably Getting Wrong


If you’re a web designer looking for a way to improve your skills, understanding these seven crucial UX laws and how you might be getting them wrong will help you out. 

1.Jakob’s Law

Jakob’s Law was named after the UX researcher Jakob Nielsen. This law claims that users have a tendency to spend the majority of their time on other sites. As a result of this, online users are most likely to use websites that are similar to the sites they already use and are familiar with. As such, Jakob’s Law can be effectively used when designing a website. It can help you limit experimentation and it pushes you towards utilising common design patterns. This can helps your business website reach higher usability. 

Users do prefer to see common patterns, however, “prefer” is loaded and lightly used. While they do prefer to use websites they will easily understand, that doesn’t mean they like familiar experiences. Familiar pattern design does not equal to a familiar experience. 

It has already been shown through research that new experiences improve our memory and boost our mood. So, what you want to avoid is creating a website that is way too familiar. Try to stick with some familiar patterns but make sure to introduce some novelty as well. Doing this will help the new users navigate your website easily while also allowing them to experience something new and something they haven’t seen before. 

2.Goal Gradient Hypothesis

According to the Goal Gradient Hypothesis, the users are more likely to complete an action the closer they are to their goal. This theory is especially applicable in e-commerce. It is often used to justify simplified purchase processes. More specifically, the initial purchase process is made to be simplified while the complex part of the purchase is moved to the back. For instance, most companies choose to place shipping charges as their final purchasing step. 

However, anyone who has experience working in e-commerce knows how big of an issue cart abandonment is. The shopping cart abandonment rate goes as high as 74% in North America. 

There’s no way for us to know what our users’ goals are. In some cases, their goals may not match ours. It may be due to the fact that the users treat your shopping cart as if it was a bookmark feature, or they might change their mind last minute just before completing the order. They also may get sudden surprise by the shipping charges. Whatever it is, you need to determine what is causing your users to abandon your shopping cart. 

3.Miller’s Law

Miller’s Law may actually be the most misunderstood of them all. This law claims that an average person is capable of holding only about 5 to 9 items in their working memory. For this reason, the UI navigation has often been restricted to no more than 5 items at a time. 

However, this law doesn’t apply to the situation when items are being displayed in front of people. Though choice paralysis can occur when we are presented with way too many options at once, people are fully capable of considering nine or more items simultaneously. Miller’s law can only be applied to UI elements such as carousels and they have been discredited for various other reasons. So, as long as your users can see their options displayed in front of them, you have nothing to worry about the capacity of people’s working memory.

4.Aesthetic-Usability Effect

The premise of the Aesthetic-Usability Effect is that people will most likely choose aesthetically pleasing websites. This is due to the fact that they expect aesthetically pleasing web designs to have better functionality and usability. 

A lot of designers used to call upon this effect when using grey-on-grey text, minimal navigations, and slick animations.

However, we all know that aesthetics do not equal functionality and usability. Just because a website is aesthetically pleasing it does not mean it will be easy to navigate and use. The users may be attracted by the shiny look of the site but they can quickly find out if the website has good usability or not. If their expectations are not fulfilled, they won’t hesitate to leave. 

So, pay attention to the aesthetics of your website but also make sure that the functionality and usability of your site actually meet the same standards. 

5.Peak-End Rule

According to the Peak-End Rule, the users are more likely to judge their experience on your website based on how they felt at the peak and the end of their whole experience. The average experience point is not important compared to these two. 

That is why designers tend to use this rule to focus their design resources primarily on the goal of each experience as well as the closing experience. This usually includes the action of adding new items to a cart and paying for the item. 

However, this rule also comes with an exception. The Peak-End Rule is completely valid, but it can’t be applied to open experiences. This goes for websites where it’s not possible to identify the starting and end points of the user’s experience. In this case, relying on SEO strategies is what can help you reach your audience and make them stick around for the quality content that has been formatted well. Web design needs to include this aspect if you want your content to be ranked high on search engines. For that reason, investing in professional SEO services can help you develop a website that is user-friendly and capable of reaching the right audience. 

6.Fitts’ Law

Back in the 50s Paul Fitts successfully demonstrated his theory that says that the size and distance of the target play a huge role when it comes to selecting the target. So, to apply this to the topic of web design, it’s harder to tap a smaller button and even harder to tap the one that is further away.

UX designers especially need to pay attention to this detail when optimizing the website for mobile phones. Luckily, most phones today are large enough and the distance does not affect their tap accuracy as much as before. 

Instead, this law is useful when it comes to desktop breakpoints. If the users are opening websites on a larger screen, then the size and distance of buttons can definitely have an impact on tap accuracy. When designing a website, you need to make sure the tappable targets are big enough to be easily selected. They also need to be spaced out enough and tab selection needs to be enabled. 

7.Occam’s Razor

Lastly, Occam’s Razor is another law that is often misunderstood. According to this law, the option that has the least assumptions (not always the simplest one) is usually the correct choice. However, in this industry making assumptions is the wrong way to go about designing websites. This industry relies on tests, measurements, and analysis. In a way, this law is the biggest design trap. The goal is to avoid this law by making it seem like the choice is the user’s assumption, not yours. This law is not applied to the design process itself, but to the user’s experience instead. 


Overall, understanding these seven UX laws and knowing how to avoid their traps will help you design an effective website that caters to your users’ experience in the best possible way. 


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