Experience is a uniquely human condition, a mixture of cognitive processes and memory. Personality also comes into play and as such experience is a complex and unique subject that differs for every person. This complexity has led us to a place where a design discipline can grow and justify its existence due to the importance of the quality of experiences that people (customers, users or patients) can feel whilst using or interacting with ”digital” products.

Technology in the last three decades has pushed the importance of how humans interact with systems, machines and each other. This has led to a fusion of disciplines now being referred to as UX. The convergence is not a coincidence but has happened due to technology as a progression from the desktop to the laptop, the mainframe to the internet.

In this context ”Experience” is a user’s experience of screen based interactions. However, it could easily be service design or product design that the same themes apply to. Experience, shown in the following essays, is a vast and abstract notion and features in many disciplines. The human mind perceives so much uniquely, that no one person feels exactly the same, similar undoubtedly, but the mechanisms of the mind are different from one person to the next.

From my perspective this is what I find fascinating about experience design. Reference to, and belief in, the importance of social and cognitive science needs to form part of the philosophy of today’s designer. An awareness of the human condition and the general needs and wants of people must figure in how we design effective systems and products.

Design patterns are certainly a start point for an effective design but without an appreciation of context and user behaviour we have a danger of building solutions that are prescribed without an eye on the optimal and most creative solutions.

Design principles have been established for many years, even centuries, and are born through many other disciplines. Notably psychology, fine art, product design and sociology.

Their more abstract application takes away the prescriptive element that patterns sometimes take. This also becomes more important when considering the context of UX design in interfaces other than those online. If we think patterns came from common use - look deeper and we realise the successful ones are soundly based upon solid design principles.

The design principles presented in this book have been taken from the excellent book Universal Principles of Design (Lidwell, Holden and Butler). As a starting point, I am really interested in how you can apply (some of these ancient) principles to modern day design. Here I grouped them and have illustrated some occurrences on the web.

Each principle is worth talking about in the context of user experience design. These foundations are even more relevant in the field of UX, as the design challenges we face are becoming more complex.

I have grouped the design principles into areas that are core to delivering good user experiences. Note the word user here denotes somebody using an interface.

The areas are divided into; persuasion, behavior, visual design, usability, interaction and content.

Though it could be argued that user experience is concerned with interfaces rather than interactions with products or services, design as an entity can still be looked on through the six different lenses presented here.

They form a basis of how to quality check my output and they have made me realize this; that in all successful creative work the following flow can be observed, strategy, experience, design and communication. These four pillars of what constitutes blockbuster products, killer software, staggering games or wonderful films cut through the range of creative industries and the core of the best businesses.

My hope is that the six circles represent a way of seeing any given design problem through specific lenses. Thus creating a contextual basis to look at a problem space and solve it appropriately.