Design Guidelines


Guidelines for user interface design summarise good practice and provide useful high and low level guidance on the design of usable interfaces. Adherence to specific guidelines can be specified as part of the usability requirements. Designers and developers should then familiarise themselves with the relevant guidelines, and expert evaluation should be used to check for compliance with the most important guidelines.


  • Guidelines embody good practice in interface design.
  • Following usability guidelines will improve the quality of the interface.


  1. Designers should be familiar with and apply general user interface guidelines, for example see the guidelines in the RESPECT Handbook, orISO 9241-10.

  2. For a Graphical User Interface (GUI) such as Windows, design principles can be found in:

    Microsoft Windows User Experience. Microsoft Press, 1999. [Official Microsoft guidelines for creating well-designed, visually and functionally consistent user interfaces, also available on the web.]

    GUI Design Handbook by Susan Fowler. McGraw Hill.

    About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design by Alan Cooper. IDG Books

    GUI Design for Dummies by Laura Arlov. IDG Books

  3. For web pages, see:

    web design principles

    Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen. New Riders. 1999.

    Web Site Usability by Jared Spool, Terri DeAngelo, Tara Scanlon, Will Schroeder, Carolyn Snyder. Morgan Kaufmann, 1998.

  4. There are application-specific guidelines for specific technologies.

Someone familiar with the usability guidelines should review the user interfaces to check for consistency with the guidelines.


A better-designed interface, and a list of any inconsistencies with guidelines.

©UsabilityNet 2006. Reproduction permitted provided the source is acknowledged.