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Introduction to Design Principles

Most people in the HCI field follow a few established design principles when creating, designing, and evaluating an interface. These principles are research-based and commonly referenced by experts in the field of HCI. The Georgia Tech HCI Certificate Program emphasizes fifteen design principles that can be used when creating, designing, and evaluating an interface:

  1. Discoverability

  2. Simplicity

  3. Affordances

  4. Mapping

  5. Percepribility

  6. Consistency

  7. Flexibility

  8. Equity

  9. Ease

  10. Comfort

  11. Structure

  12. Constraints

  13. Tolerance

  14. Feedback

  15. Documentation

These general principles appear in works by various researchers such as Don Norma, Jakob Nielson, Constantine & Lockwood, and in the Universal Design process. They are used to improve human-computer interaction by improving how an interface is used and understood by humans.

15 Design principles diagram from GTx HCIxI Human-Computer Interaction I: Fundamentals & Design Principles
Figure 1: 15 HCI Design Principles - diagram from GTx HCIxI Human-Computer Interaction I

Although the list of design principles is quite extensive, here are a few lessons I learned when it comes to using these principles to design human-computer interactions.

  1. Keep things consistent. Users prefer and perform better when an interface feels similar to something they have used in the past.

  2. Help constrain bad outcomes. Removing bad possible outcomes even before users interact with an interface helps to provide a sort of "guide rail" for the user and reduces the amount of effort and cognitive load needed to complete a task.

  3. Keep things simple. Try to highlight key actions and information needed by the user without overcrowding an interface.

Want an in-depth look at these principles and how they are used? Check out the video below to learn more!


Fawcett, A. (n.d.). Introduction to human-computer interaction & design principles. Educative. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from

CS & IT Tutorials by Vrushali. (2020). HCI 1.8 Principles of Human Computer Interaction with Examples. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from

Philips, M. (2017, June 1). Boost your UX with these successful interaction design principles. Toptal Design Blog. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from



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