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50 terms you need to know as a UX designer

Painted image of a designer studying at his desk

UX Designers have their own lingo which can often seem like a blur. Agile, MVP, learnability, qualitative and quantitative research. These terms are just an idea of what to expect if you work in a UX –team updates, interviews, network meetings assume you know the meaning of these commonly used technical words.

If you are just studying UX design, or you need a recap, we have put together a list of 50 commonly used terms within the UX industry to help you develop your knowledge. And for all those non-designers, this resource should prove significant too.


3 Click Rule

This is an unofficial web design theory that users will leave a website if they can’t get to the desired page within 3 clicks.


80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. This can be applied to any web, app or mobile feature which states that 80 per cent of your outcomes come from 20 per cent of your inputs.

Related: 6 UX principles that will guide you to create killer content


A/B testing

A/B testing (also known as split-testing) is a when you test two different variations of a webpage with users to see which one performs better a given conversion goal.

Video: What A/B testing is & how to use it


Active listening

This is a process of avoiding assumptions by asking users to demonstrate their understanding or clarify things you have said. It is all about listening to what others have to say and taking an interest in their emotions, behaviours and feedback rather than anticipating what they are going to say.


Affinity diagram

This is a well-known tool used to organise large sets of ideas into clusters or categories. In UX, this technique is used to organise research findings or sort design ideas into ideation workshops.


Agile Software Methodology

This method focuses on the ability to move quickly and easily.

Agile is an incremental approach that involves collaboration, planning, testing and creating continuous iterations to improve a project and/or software. Working agile enables the ability to change direction based on customer and stakeholder feedback along with short timeframes that keep the teams focused.



Analytics is a broad term that surrounds a variety of tools and techniques used for getting valuable data on the traffic to your website. It provides an insight into your user behaviours, customer journeys and helps identify any problems with your website or app.


Automation testing

A process in which software tools execute pre-scripted tests on a software application before it is launched. This technique is used to simplify as much of the testing effort as possible.


Beta Testing

This is the last phase of tests your web or mobile app goes through before it gets into the hands of your potential users. It’s a final opportunity to catch bugs and improve the user experience before it is launched.



This is a secondary navigation system that shows a user’s location in a site or web app.


Card sorting

Card sorting is a method used to help design and evaluate the information architecture of a site. Card sorting will help you learn about your users’ expectations by asking participants to organise topics into categories that make sense to them.

Video: Understanding card sorting


Competitor analysis

Identifying your competitors and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses to help differentiate your own product or service.


Conversion rate

The percentage of visitors who take the desired action.


Diary Study

This is a research method used to collect qualitative data about users behaviours, activities and experiences over time. The user logs the daily activities as they occur which provides real-time insights and helps to define the UX pain points.


End users

This is the people who actually use a particular product or take part in research studies.



User engagement is crucial for your business model – it is about getting the users attention and keeping them focused on a page


Error Analysis

Error Analysis allows you to identify the frequency and type of errors that occur so you can address their causes and prevent users from becoming frustrated with your product.


Ethnographic Research

This is a UX research method of people in their own environment.

Video: Ethnography


Eye Tracking

Eye tracking is a valuable instrument in UX to measure in which sequence and how long users look at certain parts in a user interface. See how ‘’ perform eye tracking here


Fitts Law

Fitts law is a descriptive model of human movement that predicts how long it will take to point at a target. The further away and smaller it is the longer it will take for the user to interact with it.

Video: Mouse pointers & Fitts law


Flow Chart

A flowchart is a diagram of the sequence of movements or actions of people or things involved in a complex system or activity.


Focus Group

It is qualitative research which consists of interviews in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, or concept.

Video: How do focus groups work?


Gestalt Principles

The Law of simplicity – Gestalt principles describe how the human eye perceives visual elements—in particular, they tell us that complex images tend to be reduced to simpler shapes. In UX design and interaction design, Gestalt principles play a large role in making interfaces usable and easy to understand.



A hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers, designers and project managers collaborate intensively on software projects.


Heart Framework

Google’s Heart Framework Analysis – Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention and Task – is a measurement of the user experience on a large scale


Heuristic Evaluations

Usability experts evaluate a website or apps interface and document flaws and other areas for improvement.


Hicks Law

Hick Law is set out the examine the time it takes for a person to make a decision as a result of the possible choices he or she has: increasing the number of choices will increase the decision time.



This is a design methodology based on an on-going process of prototyping, testing, analysing, and refining a product.



Keep it simple, stupid  KISS focuses on the idea that if we can’t understand a product, we can’t use it properly. Every user must be able to understand it if the product is to gain maximum market share.



How easy or difficult it is for users to quickly become familiar with a system or interfaces’ features and capabilities.


Low fidelity prototype

This is a quick incomplete sketch, that has some characteristics of the target product which is used to try out initial ideas.



An action to identify where on a page links are located. This involves the users quickly moving the cursor over a page and watching to see where the links are situated.



A ‘Minimum Viable Product‘ is the smallest thing you can build that delivers customer value.


Participatory Design

Participatory design is an approach to design attempting to involve all stakeholders in the design process which will ensure the result meets their needs.



A representation of the type of users based on available data and user interviews

Video: How to create UX personas



This is a sample version of a final product and is used for testing prior to launch. Prototypes should be created for every new project or feature.


Qualitative research

Usability testing study that consists of observational findings that identify design features.


Quantitative Research

A study of human behaviour that focuses on numerical data and statistics through surveys or questionnaires.


Remote User Testing

A research method that uses an online software program to record the screen and behaviours of test participants as they use your site in their natural environment—at home, in the office, or even a specific location.


Representative sampling

Selecting a group of participants that represent your product or service target audience.



A Scrum is a cross-functional team that is set to solve problems in an agile way. It suggests that projects progress via a series of sprints.  Sprints are commonly timed to 2-4 weeks



The sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping and testing ideas with customers.

Video: Design sprint explained in 1 minute


UX Survey

This is a list of questions based on a specific topic which ensures a more accurate sample of targeted results. This method helps to make important business decisions.


Target Marketing

The audience that your product or service is aimed for.


Tree Testing

Tree testing is a way of evaluating a site structure by asking users to find items based on the organisation and hierarchy of the site.

Video: Treejack: Tree testing



How effective a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals.

Video: What is usability?


User Centred Design (UCD)

This is a design process where the needs of the user are considered at all times and isn’t used because it ‘looks good’.


User Flow

User flow is the path taken by a user on a website or app to complete a task.


User Research

User research focuses on understanding user behaviours, needs, and motivations through observation techniques, task analysis, and other industry methods



The waterfall model is a’ non-iterative’ design approach, in which progress flows in one direction downwards through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, testing, deployment and maintenance.

Video: What is the waterfall methodology

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