Here are some thought-provoking design concepts that you may find useful—as I do—when considering the treatment of a subject. This collection can be found with more depth in the book Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler.
1. 80/20 Rule
A high percentage of effects in any large system are caused by a low percentage of variables.
Objects and environments should be designed to be usable, without modification, by as many people as possible.
3. Advance Organizer
An instructional technique that helps people understand new information in terms of what they already know.
4. Aesthetic-Usability Effect
Aesthetic designs are perceived as easier to use than less-aesthetic designs.
A property in which the physical characteristics of an object or environment influence its function.
The placement of elements such that edges line up along common rows or columns, or their bodies along a common center.
Universal patterns of theme and form resulting from innate biases or dispositions.
8. Attractive Bias
A tendency to see attractive people as more intelligent, competent, moral, and sociable than unattractive people.
9. Baby-Face Bias
A tendency to see people and things with baby-faced features as more naive, helpless, and honest than those with mature features.
A technique of combining many units of information into a limited number of units or chunks, so that the information is easier to process and remember.
11. Classical Conditioning
A technique used to associate a stimulus with an unconscious physical or emotional response.
A tendency to perceive a set of individual elements as a single, recognizable pattern, rather than multiple, individual elements.
13. Cognitive Dissonance
A tendency to seek consistency among attitudes, thoughts, and beliefs.
Color is used in design to attract attention, group elements, indicate meaning, and enhance aesthetics.
15. Common Fate
Elements that move in the same direction are perceived to be more related than elements that move in different directions or are stationary.
A method of illustrating relationships and patterns in system behaviors by representing two or more system variables in a controlled way.
A technique for preventing unintended actions by requiring verification of the actions before they are performed.
The usability of a system is improved when similar parts are expressed in similar ways.
The tendency to perceive objects as unchanging, despite changes in sensory input.
A method of limiting the actions that can be performed on a system.
The level of control provided by a system should be related to the proficiency and experience levels of the people using the system.
A process in which similar characteristics evolve independently in multiple systems.
An activity will be pursued only if its benefits are equal to or greater than the costs.
24. Defensible Space
A space that has territorial markers, opportunities for suveillance, and claer indications of activity and ownership.
25. Depth of Processing
A phenomenon of memory in which information that is analyzed deeply is better recalled than information that is analyzed superficially.