Nielsen's 10 Heuristics for UI/UX Design

We are internet consumers and demanders. We expect our internet browser to open and load in less than a second, and demand to find the answer for anything we throw at google. With time, the cranky noise of the dial-up modem slowly fades from the memories of those over the age of 30, as our expectations as users are programmed to demand speed, ease, and reliability.

In 1994, which in internet speed feels like 400 years ago, Jakob Nielsen, a Danish user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) pioneer created a list of 10 heuristics (broad guidelines) to standardize UX and UI for, at that time, the relatively new and exciting world of websites, web design, and the user experience. Bonsai Digital Marketing wants to make sure you’ve considered and implemented these 10 guidelines on your company’s website. If your website is lacking, get in touch with Bonsai to course-correct and make your website meet the demands of your customers.

1. Visibility of System Status

Keeping your user informed as to the status of a task the computer is performing lowers the blood pressure of the customer (not medically proven). Simple graphics—a whirling circle, loading bar, or a number on the cart icon—are reassuring symbols to inform the customer that the system in which they are engaged, is working.


2. Match Between System and The Real World

Keep the wording and language on your website comfortable, clear, and regular words and phrases people understand. Customers will bail in record time if the marketing jargon and acronyms keep your users in the dark. The logical order of conventions will make sense and keep the customer engaged with your website.


3. User Control and Freedom

This gives the user a clear “fire escape” when they’ve entered a page they want to leave or go back or completed a task and need a next step prompt. These prompts, buttons, or signals would be for example: go back, undo, redo, delete, “x out” or continue, finish, next.


4. Consistency & Standards

Consistency both internally, on your own company’s website, and externally, how your brand displays across the internet, is important for your brand and your customer. The more seamless, the better. Your company’s branding needs to be consistent across the board. Any inconsistencies confuse the customer.


5. Error Prevention

Though preventing “error-prone conditions” is ideal for any website, double-checking with a confirmation message to your user brings into consciousness that this action will, in fact, delete that file, erase that video or eliminate that song for good. Error prevention is the user’s last chance.


6. Recognition Rather Than Recall

Refusing to force your customer to remember each piece of information each time they return. This would include visible instructions, context clues, saved passwords, and/or the option to “remember me”. Again, peace of mind for the user creates less friction, encouraging the user to stay with your product longer.


7. Flexibility & Efficiency of Use

For the expert user, to keep them engaged, offer accelerators—features that speed up processes. They would be simple enough for the novice user if they spent time learning, but the expert user would be able to reduce time performing frequent actions by tailoring advanced settings, filters, shortcuts, and templates to streamline the process.


8. Aesthetic & Minimalist Design

A crowded webpage feels noisy. Information shared on a webpage should be relevant, pointed, and helpful, leaving out any superfluous and non-essential information. Less is more, so be sure to show only what the user needs. With too much information on one page, the words begin to compete with themselves.


9. Help Users Recognize, Diagnose & Recover from Errors

If a user does happen to break something or receive an error code, each code should be written in plain language, without any numbers or codes, specifically point out the problem, and offer a helpful and easy solution for the user to achieve.


10. Help & Documentation

Ideally, the best websites function without the need for extensive explanation and documentation, but sometimes help is required. A help bar needs to be easy, informative, translated into small, attainable steps. Examples of helpful website documentation could be: usability guides, manuals, FAQs, support, tooltips, web chat, and intro walk-throughs.



Having a usable, streamlined website is vital to businesses trying to thrive in this warp-speed environment. Making your site friendly to the user through UX and UI guidelines, you are ensuring that your website will have less friction to the customer. Some of Nielson’s 10 heuristics for UX/UI design are simple to implement on your own, but sometimes it’s easier to hire it out, and Bonsai Media Group is here to help make your site have the best potential for human-centered design, maximum usability, and streamlined iterative processes.



Your current browser is missing features this website requires to display correctly. Please upgrade your browser for the best experience.


Download the agency vetting checklist

Get our expert Agency Vetting Checklist instantly—just enter your info below!

Download the website redesign checklist

Get our expert Website Redesign Checklist instantly—just enter your info below!

Order your FREE Website Audit

Recieve an in-depth audit and analysis of your websites performance within 2 business days —just enter your info below!

Get your Estimate in 24-hours

Schedule a 30-minute meeting with one of our Umbraco Experts - just enter your info below!

Let's Chat!

Want to chat? We love chatting about Umbraco and all things interweb related. Schedule a 30-minute meeting with one of our Umbraco Experts - just enter your info below!