Pragmatic articles on software development and management

The Modest User Interface Manifesto

Published on by pariskasid

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about how things can go wrong when creating a user interface.

To clarify this, I am by no means an expert with user interfaces and I got only very few fundamental user interface design skills.

In spite of that, I think that there is a list of a few guidelines we — programmers — should always have in mind when building a user interface.

I named this the Modest User Interface Manifesto:

  1. The user interface should help humans achieve what they mean to, instead of just letting them do so
  2. The user interface should validate human input as much as possible, before accepting it
  3. The user interface should prefer preventing invalid data input beforehand, rather than displaying error messages afterwards
  4. The user interface should always inform humans about its current status and what they should expect
  5. The user interface should respect norms, whether we are talking about human norms (e.g. display a different address form based on a person’s country) or user interface norms (e.g. know when to use tabs)

This is it; 5 simple points we can all have in mind when designing user interfaces.


The Modest User Interface Manifesto is inspired heavily by the timeless 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design by the Nielsen Norman Group.