Markus Kugler


10 rules that make every UX successful and good - or not


As UX experts, we at coeno should of course always deliver a solution, and it is not unusual for us to be asked to justify a possible solution in the early stages of a project. This follows a misunderstanding that I also find again and again in designer blogs and magazines, namely the desire to be able to formulate "the ten commandments for UX development", i.e. a kind of "UX world formula" that can be applied to all projects.

This formula (unfortunately) does not exist. On the contrary, overly formalized designs, features and functions conceived on the drawing board always carry the risk of worsening the user experience. Positive user experience, on the contrary, can only be created by a case-by-case mapping of the concrete user wishes within the framework of a usability engineering process. More important than a rigid set of rules on how something has to look like (tiles, 3D, whatever ...) is therefore the constant questioning of the user and his needs.

Users expect something - but what?

We all know devices that can be used to manage and play media files. As a UXer, you are always looking for an ideal solution to organize these files as flexibly as possible. For IFA 2013, we developed, among other things, a user interface for the reference design of a universal media gateway from Intel, and this question also arose here.


Sure, you could have thought of something, followed some golden rules, how something supposedly has to look like. And maybe in certain cases they would even have been right. But instead, we used the results of contextual interviews with real users. We didn't ask "How should we make your media organizable? Instead, we asked with a maximum of openness: "How do you actually do that when you handle your media files?

The supposedly simple answer:

I arrange my files in folders and do not use special software that creates additional order.

So in the case of a media player, this is a possible solution to the user's how-to file-order problem. It sounds so simple that it is actually not worth mentioning. But if you take a closer look at known devices, you will see that folders are not the ordering criterion of choice. Instead, they follow some kind of rules, often UI fads and force the user to follow a different scheme. Many users will be disappointed, their expectations will not be met and frustration will arise - the opposite of a positive user experience.

So what do you do with the now familiar expectation that files are managed by folders? In the lingo of usability engineering this is called a requirement:

The media manager must have folders available to manage files.

From this we then derive a concrete usage requirement, something that the user must be able to do with the help of the system:

The user must be able to create, transfer, rename, delete, etc. folders.

A good UX does not come from a set of rules. A positive user experience is created when the interface meets the user's expectations. When it can do exactly what the user wants. And if he enjoys doing it. So if there are any rules at all, then the user sets them up. Indirectly. By telling us how he or she would use such a product - in the concrete usage situation, in the context of the specific reason for using it.

Markus Kugler

Managing Director & Usability Engineer


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