When all else fails, STANDARDIZE.

The 7th principle of Donald A. Norman

When all else fails, standardize.




“Bad design cannot be patched up with labels, instructions manuals, or training courses.”

“But appearances are only part of the story: usability and understandability are more important, for if a product can’t be used easily and safely, how valuable is its attractiveness?”

The Psychopathology of Everyday Things

Things can have “vestigial” features: features that hang on for generations because customers don’t complain about them, even though they’re not beneficial. Since designers can justify the presence of almost any feature, the vestigial features persist and complicate interfaces.

“The paradox of technology: added functionality generally comes along at the price of added complexity.”

“Whenever the number of functions and required operations exceeds the number of controls, the design becomes arbitrary, unnatural, and complicated.”

The Psychology of Everyday Actions

“If an error is possible, someone will make it. The designer must assume that all possible errors will occur and design so as to minimize the chance of the error in the first place, or its effects once it gets made. Errors should be easy to detect, they should have minimal consequences, and, if possible, their effects should be reversible.”



Standardization– is a way to deal with things that cannot be design without arbitray mappings

Standardize– Give people the icons and the navigation that they are expecting

          First, we should not allow for all else to fail in the design of instruction. However, usually the early attempts people may face some failures and difficulties in their first trials. These failures by the time develop the standards that keep others away from committing the same mistake and improve the safety for users. Standardization is considered one type of cultural constraint that provides a major improvement to the design accessibility.

The Design Challenge

“If you don’t know any keyboard, there is little difference in typing speed among a qwerty keyboard, an alphabetic keyboard, and even a random arrangement of keys. If you know even a little of the qwerty, that is enough to make it better than the others.”


  • Standardize the actions ,outcomes, layout displays
  • make related actions work in the same way.
  • Standardization is simply another aspect of cultural constraints.
  • The timing of the standardization – difficult to change
  • Useful as long as everyone uses the same system


Other Examples

  • In the results list, the preview field is frustrating because does not present any information



  • Login buttons are widely spaced.



  • “A fail tea pot” vs “The standard version of tea pots”



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“I really think that good design is centered around basic logic and with the idea of keeping things simple.”




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