Full day training course

User Interface Principles Every Designer Must Know

Learn key human-computer interaction (HCI) research findings, and how to apply them to UX design problems

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) integrates concepts and methods from computer science, design, and psychology to build interfaces that are accessible, easy to use, and efficient.

In this course, you will learn about many of the findings from HCI research, which uses controlled experiments to reach conclusions. The course also address how these findings can be translated into specific design recommendations. For example, you will understand how interfaces and input devices (e.g. mouse vs. touchscreen) can burden users and what you can do to improve design.

We include examples from websites, applications, hardware, and physical products.

"An excellent introduction to the principles of user interfaces which dips into considerable detail, guided by an authorative instructor. I'm very impressed."

Adam Turnbull, Director Platform Products
Rail Europe

Topics Covered

Topics Covered

  • Origins of HCI
  • Design better interfaces from the start by knowing human limitations and easing the load on the user
    • Information-processing approach
    • Perception and attention:
      • Top-down and bottom-up processes
      • Gist phenomenon in scene perception
      • Visual features noticed preattentively 
      • Page density and how it affects users
      • The influence of aesthetics
    • Cognitive load and working memory
    • How encoding and retrieval affect memory 
    • Shallow and deep processing
    • Supporting memory retrieval
    • Learning
    • Mental models and their importance for learning
    • Multimedia and learning
    • Norman's theory of interaction: Gulf of evaluation and gulf of execution
    • Affordances and signifiers
    • Skeuomorphic design
    • Motor actions:
      • Hyck-Hyman response-selection law and categorical versus alphabetical menus
      • Fitts’ Law and its implications for design
      • Stimulus-response compatibility
    • Touch input on mobile devices
      • Mobile text input
    • Effect of stress on behavior
  • Interaction style
    • Direct manipulation 
    • Menus, forms, and dialogs:
      • Broad menus versus deep menus
      • Pie menus versus square menus
      • Adaptive toolbar menus
      • Drop-down boxes versus radio buttons
      • Notification annoyance
      • Modal and nonmodal dialogs
  • Universal design
    • Designing systems to be used by anyone, anywhere
    • Issues in designing for specific populations (e.g. kids, seniors, and users with disabilities)
  • Interfaces that support collaboration
    • Common ground
    • Synchronous versus asynchronous collaboration
  • Complex interfaces
    • Strategies for supporting different types of search
    • Information visualization:
      • Overview+detail
      • Focus+context
    • Ideal response times and effect of longer waiting period



The basis of the course is a lecture format, with group exercises to reinforce the learned principles and guidelines.

The course also includes:

  • Findings from our own usability studies, including eyetracking
  • Videos from usability testing of people's behavior in response to a design
  • Screenshots of designs that work and don’t work, and why
  • Opportunities to ask questions and get answers

Participant Comments

Participant Comments

"I was happy to see Raluca use research from previous decades applied to current day examples such as the Windows 10 interface and Android Lollipop. Thank you for keeping it fresh!"


"This course gave me a solid grounding in human-computer interaction. I feel empowered to make better design decisions grounded in solid HCI research."

Chris Ryan, Capital One

"If you're the type of person who's always asking 'why', [this course] offers deep valuable insights applicable in real-world scenarios. I have no doubt this course will improve my work."

Aaren Hofferth, Rocketmedia

"This course was AMAZING! I am a designer and this course is exactly what I came to this UX conference for. Kathryn is an excellent teacher."

Matt Denny, Naval Air Warfare Center

"Right mix of lecture, reflection and discussion to anchor the learning points."

Aaron Ong, DSTA, Singapore

"Take your own notes so you force yourself to learn thru all this great info. Such a wealth of terms you can use to influence designs and provide rationale for your decisions."

Kristi Allen, Wiley

"As a designer just coming out of school only a year ago this program was extremely helpful. I have not only learned new skills but also gained confirmation regarding best practices for ui/ux. The speaker was very knowledegeable and presented the cintent clearly. Great first experience and I can't wait to come back for more."

Melissa Arrillaga, Simpleview, Inc.

"I really enjoyed the audience interaction.  Having the different exercises that went along with the lesson helped with learning comprehension.  The content was really interesting and helpful."

Caroline Walters, Zion & Zion

"Finally! The difference between affordances and signifiers explained and demonstrated I loved the science behind design aesthetics, too. I attended Katie's seminar on persuasion design last year and I've returned to her material again and again for evidence-based design decisions and inspiration. Thank you!"

Bridgette Huff, United Network for Organ Sharing

"This course provided scientific backing for design decisions we make on a daily basis. It felt like the Rosetta stone I needed to justify and defend design decisions to management and engineering."

Paula Popowski, NCSA

"Katie was so energized which made the class so much fun and easy to follow. The content of the class was rich and very useful. I was able to relate so many things on the content with my current work. Definitely recommend this course."

Sumonthip Gmitro, Boeing

"This course reminded me of fundamental essentials and gave me improved vocabulary to talk to the development guys at work and make a case for content and UX. Thank you!"

Kim Caviness, Imagination



Kathryn Whitenton

Kathryn Whitenton is Nielsen Norman Group's Digital Strategy Manager. She works with clients to evaluate the user experience and information architecture of websites in a variety of industries including technology, telecommunications, and media, as well as corporate intranets. She has conducted usability research, eyetracking user research, and studies of users on mobile devices in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Her user studies have included general audiences as well as specific consumer types, business segments, children, and seniors. Read more about Kathryn.

Katie Sherwin

Katie Sherwin is a User Experience Specialist with Nielsen Norman Group. She specializes in helping organizations utilize principles of user-centered design and strategic communication to achieve their goals. Read more about Katie

Raluca Budiu

Raluca Budiu is a Director of Research with Nielsen Norman Group. At NN/g she consults for clients from a variety of industries and presents tutorials on mobile and tablet usability, cognitive psychology for designers, and principles of human computer interaction. She coauthored the NN/g reports on tablet usability, mobile usability, iPad usability, and the usability of children's websites, and the book "Mobile Usability". Raluca also served as a judge for GSMA Global Mobile Awards 2012-2016 and Tabby Awards 2013. She holds a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. Read more about Raluca.

Currently Scheduled

Currently Scheduled:

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