A very long time ago when I worked at an architecture and design firm (arguably they were and still are one of the best in the country), I began to realize that I had a dual personality.

On the one hand, I was in the IT department and had to play the role of “IT Staff Member”. On the other hand, I knew deep down inside I loved and I loved architecture and how it made people feel, how it impacted society, and how it made me feel.

I participated in a study at Penn State where some graduate students were using a new method to find out our strengths. I was blown away at how accurate it was. Here’s my top five strengths:

Social Intelligence — I am aware of the motives and feelings of other people. I know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and I know what to do to put others at ease.

Humor and Playfulness — I like to laugh and tease. I try to see the light side of all situations.

Curiosity & Interest in the World — I am curious about everything. Always asking questions and finding many subjects fascinating.

Love of learning — I love to learn new things, am independent, and love school, museums, and anywhere there’s an opportunity to learn.

Perspective Wisdom — Although I don’t think of myself as wise, my friend hold this view of me. They value my perspective on matters and turn to me for advice.

These are literally me in words. Serious. Now you know me. I was shocked to learn this because I could never really understand myself.

So I said all of that not to have a self-therapy session right here on Medium, but to tell you that it makes complete sense to me why I love design, technology, and people. It makes sense now, why I am choosing this path of Design, Human Centered Design, etc.

One of the books I have owned for a very long time isn’t a tech book. It’s a book called Universal Principles Of Design. This is nothing new, novel, or earthshaking. But I love this book and it’s always been my goal to go from beginning to end and list out 5–10 of these each day and tie them to something relevant in UX Design.

So that’s what I’m doing. A several part series where I’ll list out these Design Principles and try to tie them to UX Design. They won’t be long posts, just snippets so people can learn without bogging down in theory. I hope to learn, help others learn, and ignite conversation.

Here’s the first five.

3D Projection

A tendency to see things as three-dimensional when certain visual cues are present.

Relevance to UX. I feel like this could be very important in terms of visual design. How things appear and more importantly, how they draw a person to something specific, like in an app or on a website or even on a form.

80/20 Rule

A high percentage of effects in any large system is caused by a low percentage of variables. Proposed by economist Vilfredo Pareto. This is probably one of the most popular principles.

Relevance to UX. 80 percent of a product or app or website or even a service’s usage involves 20 percent of its features. 80 percent of the issues are probably caused by 20 percent of the design. Which is why we see reports of miraculous results to a design when one little thing is changed.


The best measurements are achieved when taken as close to the action as possible.

Relevance to UX. I feel like this could actually be relevant in user research. So if you are doing usability studies and you start looking at things a little closer to the user in terms of what they are doing or struggling with, then maybe you get closer to the problem area.


Things should be designed to be usable, without modification, by as many people as possible.

Relevance to UX. This to me plays into discoverability and also usability. Can you figure it out and is it usable without having to think too much. It reminds me of the book I’m reading, “Don’t Make Me Think”. Which means things should be obvious and self-explanatory.

Aesthetic-Usability Effect

Aesthetic things are perceived to be easier to use than ugly things. They foster positive attitudes, making people more tolerant when problems are encountered.

Relevance to UX. So on this one, I see a few things. For one, I don’t think anyone should rely on aesthetic to mask a potentially bad design decision in lieu of the knowledge that there will be tolerance on the part of the user. I do, however, think this has a huge impact on providing an experience that’s pleasurable and one that eases a potentially negative perception.

Part II is coming tomorrow and I can’t wait to share it.



Universal principles of Design: UX edition was originally published in UX Collective on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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