Design glossary


Accessibility: The design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities

Affinity diagram: A method of synthesizing that organizes data into groups with common themes or relationships


Big picture storyboard: A series of visually rendered panels that focus on the user’s experience

Basic grid: Intersecting lines that divide pages into small squares, which allows you to easily lay out elements in a design

Borders: A method of containment that uses continuous lines that often form shapes, like squares or rectangles, to break up sections of a page


Case study: Summarized presentation of a design project that typically includes: the project’s goal and objectives, role in the project, process the team followed

Competitive audit: An overview of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses

Customizable text: A feature that allows users to change how text is displayed in order to read the text more easily

Close-up storyboard: A series of visually rendered panels that focus on the product

Common region: The principle that elements located within the same area are perceived to be grouped together

Conversion rate: Measures the percentage of users who complete a desired action

Containment: The use of visual barriers to keep elements of a design neat and organized; the four methods of containment are dividers, borders, fill, and shadow


Design critique session: a planned period of time where UX designers present their work to team members and listen to feedback

Design system: a series of reusable elements that allow teams to design and develop a product following predetermined standards

De-identification: Removing any identifying information from a users’ data that is collected during a research study

Dividers: A method of containment that uses single lines to separate sections of a page

Direct competitors: Companies that have offerings similar to your product and focus on the same audience

Dopamine: A natural chemical in the brain that’s released when something pleasurable happens, which makes us feel good or intrigued

Drop-off rates: The number of users who abandon the experience


Edge case: What happens when things go wrong that are beyond the user’s control

Empathy: The ability to understand someone else’s feelings or thoughts in a situation

Empathy map: An easily understood chart that explains everything designers have learned about a type of user

Emphasis: A way of attracting attention to text, a button, or another object in a design

Elements: Building blocks for creating a design


Facilitator: The person who runs the design critique and guides the process

Feedback: Asking for or receiving ideas about what is or isn’t working in a product design

Fidelity: How closely a design matches the look and feel of the final product

Fill: A method of containment that assigns colors to borders and shapes

Font: The size, thickness, and emphasis of characters of text

Friendliness bias: The tendency of people to agree with those they like in order to maintain a non-confrontational conversation


Gestalt Principles: Describe how humans group similar elements, recognize patterns, and simplify complex images when perceiving objects

Gesture: Any method of interaction a user has with information on their device using touch

Goal statement: One or two sentences that describe a product and its benefits for the user.


Happy path: A user story with a pleasant ending

Hierarchy: A visual design principle that orders elements on a page and classifies them by their level of importance

High-fidelity: A design that closely matches the look and feel of the final product


Iconography: A system of graphic images or symbols associated with a subject or an idea

Ideation: The process of generating a broad set of ideas on a given topic, with no attempt to judge or evaluate them

Implicit biases: The collection of attitudes and stereotypes we associate with people without our conscious knowledge

Indirect competitors: Have a similar set of offerings but focus on a different audience, or have a different set of offerings and focus on the same audience

Industry standards: Common ways to indicate page elements

Information architecture (IA): Organizes content to help users understand where they are in a product and where the information they want is

Interactivity: Makes the prototype function

Insight: An observation about people that helps you understand the user or their needs from a new perspective

Iterate: Revise the original design to create a new and improved version


Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Critical measures of progress toward an end goal


Methodology: The steps to take to conduct research, collect data, and analyze data

Mockup: A high-fidelity design that represents your final product, without the interactivity of a prototype


Negative (white) space: The gaps between elements in a design

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA): A contract that gives one party legal protection against another party stealing their ideas or revealing proprietary information before a product is launched


Layouts: Ways to arrange elements on a page

Layout grid: A series of columns and alleys that allow you to organize elements in a design

Low-fidelity: A design with a lower amount of complexity and that is less refined or polished

Low-fidelity (lo-fi) prototype: A simple, interactive model that provides a basic idea of what the product would look like and how it would function


Mockup: A high-fidelity design that represents your final product, without the interactivity of a prototype

Motion: A way to animate static design elements to focus the user’s attention and tell stories


Negative (white) space: The gaps between elements in a design

Notetaker: The person who captures all of the ideas and feedback from the reviewers during a
design critique


Pain points: UX issues that frustrate the user and block the user from getting what they need

Personas: Fictional users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users

Presenter: The designer who is sharing their work with others in the design critique session

Problem statement: A clear description of the user’s need that should be addressed

Product development lifecycle: The process used to take a product from an idea to reality

Proportion: The balance or harmony between elements that are scaled

Prototype: An early model of a product that demonstrates functionality

Proximity: The principle that elements that are close together appear to be more related than things that are spaced farther apart


Research study: A step-by-step examination of a group of users and heir needs, which adds realistic context to the design process

Reviewer: Someone who gives feedback about the design and offers clear actions to take
during a design critique session


Scale: Concept that’s used to explain the size relationship between a given element and the other elements in the design

Scalable: Describes a system that’s able to maintain performance levels when workload

Serial position effect: When given a list of items, people are more likely to remember the first few and the last few, while the items in the middle tend to blur

Shadows: A method of containment that creates dimension in combination with borders or fill

Similarity: The principle that elements that look similar are perceived to have the same function

Social desirability bias: The tendency for people to answer questions in a way that will be
viewed favorably by others

Stakeholders: People who are involved in the project or who will be affected by its results

Storyboard: A series of panels or frames that visually describes and explores a user’s experience with a product

Synthesize: Combine ideas to draw conclusions

System Usability Scale (SUS): A questionnaire that measures the usability of designs


The human factor: Describes the range of variables humans bring to their product interactions

Time on task: The amount of time it takes for a user to complete a task

Typography: The technique of arranging letters and text to make the language readable, clear,
and visually appealing

Typographic hierarchy: The ordering of typefaces and fonts in a layout to create divisions that show users where to focus and how to find information

Typeface: The overall style of text, distinguished by stroke weight, shape, type of serif, and line

Type classification: A general system to describe styles of type, like serif and sans serif


Unity: Measures how well elements of your design work together to communicate an idea

User group: A set of people who have similar interests, goals, or concerns

User journey: The series of experiences a user has as they achieve a specific goal

User story: A fictional one-sentence story told from the persona’s point of view that inspires and informs design decisions

Usability study: A research method that assesses how easy it is for participants to complete core tasks in a design

Use of navigation vs. search: The number of people who use a website or app’s navigation, compared to the number of people who use the search functionality

User error rates: Indicate the parts of a design that cause users to make errors


Variety: Differentiating the elements in your design to add visual interest

Visual balance: The sense that a design is equally weighted on both sides of its emphasized center

Visual design: How a product or technology appears to users

Visual weight: A measure of the force that an element exerts to attract the eye

Vulnerable populations: Groups of people who have limited ability to provide their consent or have special privacy concerns


Wireframe: A basic outline of a digital experience, like an app or website