Sometimes Breaking the Rules Is Good

I encountered an example recently where a UI Golden Rule was broken to great effect.  I promise that the idea of “breaking rules” has nothing to do with my last post that was all about not knowing what the rules are.

So back to the UI Golden Rules – there is no shortage of rules out there that have been concocted and created through a combination of common sense, user studies, and solid media persuasion.  I say persuasion because there are no real “UX Golden Rules” that everyone agrees on – design is too subjective for that.  I would argue that there are Golden Rules around best practices for gathering information and analysing it, but when it comes to actual design, the rules tend to be more about who has the loudest and most-listened-to voice at the moment.  What’s this all mean?  It means most designers tend to form their own Golden Rules and work from those.  Myself I tend to model my thinking along the lines of Ben Shneiderman‘s 8 Golden Rules.  But this post is about breaking rules for the betterment of design – let me tell you a story.


Consistency Can Be Dangerous

Consistency is often lauded as a high ideal to strive towards when designing user interfaces. It makes sense – if you do something once, and then a second time, suddenly that thing can become quite natural and … well … intuitive.

Last month I came across a cautionary tale related to consistency.


Feeling Stuck? Seek Ignorance.

I was reviewing a wireframe of mine the other day with my team and we felt a little stumped by one particular part of the design.  It felt like it was a good design but I couldn’t put into words why I preferred it over the alternate I had proposed.  The team also struggled with giving a name to why it was a better design – until our newest member spoke up.