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Design terms every designer needs to know

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If you are new to the field of UX and UI design, then you might come across a lot of terms that you have never heard before. You might wonder if these are even real words. Don’t worry; we were all beginners at some point. To help you out, we have compiled a list of the most frequently used UX and UI design terms. You can use this glossary as a quick reference whenever you come across a term that you don’t understand. It might also help you to expand your vocabulary so that you can better communicate with your colleagues.

3-click Rule

The 3-click rule is a rule of thumb used to evaluate the usability of a website. The idea is that if you have to click more than 3 times to complete a task, the website is probably too complicated and needs to be redesigned. The “3 clicks” rule is not a hard-and-fast rule. Rather, it’s meant to be a general guideline by which usability can be measured and improved. The 3-click rule is a modern iteration of the “navigation through words” method that was introduced by Jakob Nielsen in 2000. Nielsen suggested that distinctive text links can help users discover navigation options for each page. In the early days of the internet, most websites were built using static menus that were hard to navigate. This design is still used heavily today on small business websites. In the 1990s, users needed to memorize the layout of each website so that they could navigate back and forth between pages.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is a statistical test for website optimization. A/B tests, also called bucket tests or split tests, are used to determine which variation is better by comparing two (or more) variations of the same page. A/B tests are one of the most common forms of web page UX research. A/B testing involves showing one group of people version A of a page and another group version B of a page and then measuring the results to determine which page is better and why. A/B tests are used for many different purposes, including finding the best headline and copy, improving conversions, and testing landing pages. A/B tests can be done at any stage of a product, but they are especially common during the initial stages of product development.


Accessibility refers to the design of products that are usable by people with disabilities. Poor accessibility can mean that people who are blind, have limited mobility, or use assistive technology cannot use a product. Designing accessible products starts with understanding your user and their needs. In terms of user experience, accessibility is about making your product available to as many people as possible. This includes people who have disabilities and those who use a variety of different devices.

Bottom-up UX Research

The goal of user research is to gain a better understanding of your users. You can use different methods of UX research to do this, including surveys, customer interviews, and field research. A bottom-up approach to user research focuses on building a deep understanding of your users. It involves speaking to people who are actually using the product to discover the biggest pain points, areas for improvement, and what would help them the most. A bottom-up approach to user research is often used in the early stages of design. It’s a great way to build a strong foundation on which to build your product and customer feedback is something that should be included in every design project.


Breadcrumbs are visual indicators that show the path you took to arrive at the current page. They are often placed in the sidebar of a website. They are used to indicate that you have moved from one section of a website to another. They help users who might have clicked on an internal link to find their way back to the homepage. They are also used to indicate the current section of a website. Breadcrumbs are often found in large information-heavy websites like e-commerce websites and government websites.

Cognitive load

Cognitive load refers to the demand on our attention and working memory. It is the amount of mental effort being used to process information. When working on a task, there are a finite amount of resources at our disposal. If these are all being used up by one task, it results in a decrease in performance of other tasks. If your attention is being pulled in multiple directions, you may struggle to perform even easy tasks effectively. Cognitive load can be caused by many different factors including:
- The amount of information being processed - complexity
- The structure of information - chunking
- The way information is presented - modality
- The amount of effort required - workload
- The amount of time available - deadlines

Cognitive load in UX design refers to the demand on the user’s attention and working memory. This means UX designers should seek to minimize the cognitive load of their designs by only placing important information on the page and using easy-to-process visual elements. With these considerations in mind, UX designers can craft a user experience that is straightforward and easy to comprehend.

Cognitive Walkthrough

A cognitive walkthrough is a process of conducting research and testing your assumptions about how users will interact with a product. It is a type of usability inspection and can be applied to both products and prototypes. A cognitive walkthrough helps you identify usability issues with your product and find ways to fix them. The walkthrough uses a user’s mental model and his or her mental journey to complete a task to identify potential problems. The user’s mental model is their internal understanding of the product, and their mental journey is the path they take in their head as they use the product. A cognitive walkthrough is used at the later stages of product design when you already have a product or a prototype. You can also use a cognitive walkthrough to test your user journey map.

Cohort Analysis

A cohort analysis is a statistical analysis that groups data into cohorts. The main goal is to find a relationship between two different factors. Cohort analysis is often used to look at how new technology adoption trends. If you want to know how many people use laptop computers and how many people use tablet computers, then you can conduct a cohort analysis to find out. For example, you can conduct a cohort analysis to determine how many people access your product on their phones and how many people access your product on their computers. You can then compare these two cohorts to see if one is growing faster than the other. This will give you valuable insight into how your customers are using your product.

Competitor analysis

Competitor analysis is the act of studying your competition and assessing their strengths, weaknesses, and general product offering. It’s an essential piece of the strategic planning process for any business. A UX designer conducting a competitor analysis will look at the general usability of the product, but will also take a look at how other designers have chosen to solve similar problems. Competitor analysis is a great way to identify design patterns that are commonly used in the market. Once you identify the patterns that are being used, you can choose to follow one of them, modify it to suit your needs, or come up with a completely different solution. Competitor analysis is a critical part of any user experience design project because it will help you identify areas where you can differentiate yourself from the competition. It will also help you figure out where there is room for improvement in your own product from a usability standpoint.

Design Process

The design process is the cyclical process of designing a product or a solution. It is not just one thing. In fact, there are many different types of design processes. You can design a new product, website, or marketing campaign. You can also redesign something that already exists. Designing is a creative process that requires a lot of research and planning. The design process is different for every project. If you have a very short deadline, you’ll need to adapt your process to be more concise. If you have a lot of time, you can explore new ideas and take your time getting it right. The most important thing is that you have a process that works for you and that you stick to it. This will help you make sure that you cover all the important steps in the design process and get your project done on time.

Design patterns

Design patterns are the result of designers trying to solve the same problems over and over again. When a solution that works is found, it’s documented and shared so that other designers can learn from it and take advantage of the hard work that went into finding it. Design patterns are common elements that are consistently used in different types of apps and websites. These elements have been proven to work well, and are guaranteed to be easy to understand. When using a design pattern, a UX designer wouldn’t create something new from scratch. Instead, they would select an existing design pattern and use it as a starting point. The designer would then modify the pattern to suit the specifics of their design. Design patterns are typically used in UX design when there is a lack of creative inspiration.

Design system

A design system is a set of guidelines, principles, and reusable components that ensure visual and functional consistency across digital products. It includes elements like colors, typography, icons, buttons, and more. It helps to streamline the design and development process by providing a common language for teams to work from. This not only saves time and resources, but it also improves the overall user experience by providing a seamless and intuitive interface.

End user

End user refers to the individual who will be using the product you are designing. It’s the person who will be interacting with the product on a daily basis, making use of the features, and encountering any issues with the product. The end user is the person you should be designing for. You don’t need to consider the needs of other people like marketers and engineers. You need to keep the end user in mind at all times when conducting user interviews and usability testing. Your product has been created for the end user, so it is important to understand what their needs and expectations are. When conducting user interviews, you should use open-ended questions so you can really understand what the end user is looking for.

Flat Design

Flat design is a design philosophy that uses minimal and clean aesthetic. It often omits drop shadows, 3D effects, and gradients. Flat design is clean and modern, with lots of white space and bold, simple graphics. Flat design is considered more of a trend than a strict rule: some flat designs are very minimal, while others are just less elaborate than what’s expected in the current design scene. Flat design began in the digital realm and spread to other mediums. Designers began to see the limitations of skeuomorphism and wanted a new style that was more simplistic. They wanted to make design feel more modern and clean.

Focus group

A focus group is a form of qualitative research that brings together a small number of individuals (normally between five and eight) to discuss their thoughts and feelings about a particular topic. The main goal of a focus group is to observe how people interact with each other when faced with a particular scenario. A UX designer may conduct a focus group with potential users of their product to get feedback on their design and to see if there are any areas that could be improved. They might also use a focus group to gain insight into the expectations of potential customers. Depending on the type of product you are designing, a focus group may be more appropriate than other types of research. There are many different ways to run a focus group, so it’s important to pick a format that works for you and your team members.

F-Shaped Pattern

The F-shaped pattern describes the way people visually scan a page. It is a common visual scanning pattern that researchers have observed in people reading printed materials like books and magazines. The F-shaped pattern is used when skimming a page or when trying to find specific information on a page. It’s thought to be the dominant reading pattern for people with a wide range of reading abilities. The F-shaped pattern starts by scanning the top left-hand corner of the page and then moving across the page until it reaches the right-hand side. The reader then scans down the page to the bottom left-hand corner. This pattern resembles an “F”. It’s worth noting that this pattern may not be used for every type of content. It’s most commonly used for text-heavy content with moderate to high levels of complexity. The F-shaped pattern has implications for user interface design. It suggests that people have a specific visual strategy for scanning pages. It might therefore be a good idea to make certain key elements visible from the top-left corner of the page.

Information architecture

The field of information architecture (IA) is concerned with the organization of information within a product or website. It deals with the following topics: - How information is structured - hierarchy, flow, and grouping - How information is presented - modality, layout, and visuals - How users interact with the information - navigation, searching, and browsing Information architecture is closely related to user experience design because the structure of information is critical in making it easy to use. A solid information architecture will make it easy to find the right information and complete tasks. It will also allow the user to understand how the information is organized and create a mental model of its structure.

Lean UX

Lean UX is a new approach to product design aimed at reducing the time and cost of designing digital products. It is a streamlined version of traditional UX design that focuses on the core functionality of your product. Lean UX is about getting your product to market as soon as possible. It encourages designers to start with the minimum viable product and then continually improve it over time based on user feedback. The aim of lean UX is to create a product that is functional and usable right from the start. It’s not about creating something beautiful that people love to use. It’s about creating something functional that serves its intended purpose. Lean UX is often used when designing software products that need to be launched quickly. This approach is also valuable when designing products with a low budget or with a small team of designers.

Mental model

A mental model is an individual’s understanding of how a system works and their expectations of how they might use it. A mental model is a critical part of user experience design because it is the foundation on which all other design elements are built. If a user has a poor mental model of how your product works, they will struggle to make use of it. A good mental model will help a user quickly understand how and when to use your product. It will also help them understand how to solve any issues they encounter if things go wrong. A mental model is created from the moment a user first encounters your product. It is built from the visual design, the written content, and any interactions that the user has with your product.

Tree testing

Tree testing is also known as tree probing or tree trunk testing. It is a form of user testing where the tester will explore the different branches of a product or website to see if there are any issues. Tree testing is especially useful when designing websites since there are many different paths a user can take to reach the same page. It is also useful when designing products with many different features since users will likely use a handful of them on their first try. Tree testing can be automated by using a tree testing software. This can record the tester’s actions and allow you to review the testing session afterwards to see if there are any issues. Tree testing is a great way to identify any issues with your design that users may come across. It is also an effective way to test for compliance with accessibility guidelines.

User persona

A user persona is a fictional person who represents a group of real users. It’s a common technique used in UX design to help designers and product managers understand the needs and desires of their potential customers.
An example persona is Mary, a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom who loves to travel with her family. Mary uses public transportation to get around, so she needs a transit app that works offline. Mary has a smartphone, but she only uses it for email and social media. She prefers to use a desktop computer when booking travel. Mary uses a voice assistant to control her smart home and check the weather. She wants to stay connected with her family while they’re away, so she uses video calling.
User personas are often used in combination with other UX design methods. They help UX designers to create a mental picture of their target user and empathize with their needs. User personas are helpful for designers and product managers to better understand their users and make better design decisions.


Whitespace, also called negative space, is the empty space between and around elements on a page. You can think of whitespace as the empty space between paragraphs and pictures, the space between lines of text, or the space between buttons and icons. Whitespace can be used to help draw attention to certain pieces of content. White space is usually considered a design element, but it also plays an important role in user experience. You can use whitespace to make your content easier to read and scan. It can also help you create a more visually appealing design. Whitespace is especially important in web design, as it defines what content is most important on a page. It gives your page visual structure and order, allowing people to quickly navigate to the information they are looking for.


We have covered the important terms that every aspiring UX or UI designer must know. These terms will help you understand the concepts better and improve your communication skills, which is very important for this field. Stay updated with the latest trends in the field by learning these terms. Thanks for reading!


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