Good User Interface Design: Entirely Subjective?

When people gather to discuss user interface design, there always seems to be someone who says that good user interface design is entirely subjective.

Let’s lay this myth to rest once and for all.

The Consequences of the Statement 

If UI design is entirely subjective, then it follows that there is no one design that is good for everyone. I am not arguing that this is untrue. Indeed, most UI designers would agree, however that some aspects of UI design are subjective, and that there is no one-size-fits-all where people are concerned.

That said, if UI design is entirely subjective, then neither is thare any UI design that is bad for everyone. Clearly, this is nonsense.

Counter Example

Imagine a really silly GUI that is controlled by a mouse, but the mouse pointer moves in a random direction every time you move the mouse. This would be rated as poor for usability for everyone.

A Law

From this simple example, we can extrapolate a simple universal law of UI design.

It is universally true that a ‘good’ UI will have a generally consistent mapping between the user’s actions on the UI’s controls, and the consequences of those actions within the UI.

Example of the Law

A mouse-driven UI where the pointer always moves in a direction that maps to the direction in which the mouse has been moved is a better design for all of its users than a similar UI where the pointer moves in a random direction.


In conclusion, UI design cannot possibly be entirely subjective. There are at least some absolutes, some universals, and some laws of UI design.

Of course, your comments are welcome.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: