Wednesday, January 16, 2008

UI Design Strategy: The Gestalt Principle

Patterns in UI design ...

"Measuring usability, identifying usage problems, making improvements. All very interesting, but it's a 'correctional' activity at best. The true improvements in usability are made in the design phase. But how do you design a usable interface?

An important element of designing the UI is designing the lay-out of the controls. One of the design strategies for doing this is the Gestalt principle. The central notion behind Gestalt theory is the idea (or assumption, as some would have it) that we tend to order our experience in a manner that is regular, orderly, symmetric, and simple. Simply put: we are looking for patterns. This is reflected in a number of laws that should help in assuring a UI layout in which controls or function that 'belong together' (i.e., perform similar functions) are perceived as a group by the user.

* Law of Closure — The mind may experience elements it does not perceive through sensation, in order to complete a regular figure (i.e., to increase regularity).
* Law of Similarity — The mind groups similar elements into collective entities or totalities. This similarity might depend on relationships of form, color, size, or brightness.
* Law of Proximity — Spatial or temporal proximity of elements may induce the mind to perceive a collective or totality.
* Law of Symmetry — Symmetrical images are perceived collectively, even in spite of distance.
* Law of Continuity — The mind continues visual, auditory, and kinetic patterns.
* Law of Common Fate — Elements with the same moving direction are perceived as a collective or unit."    (Continued via the product usability weblog)    [Usability Resources]

The law of similarity - Usability, User Interface Design

The law of similarity

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