UX Design Principle #003: Jakob's Law

William Brodlo
Marketing & Design Associate
Read Time
5 min read
Published On
March 16, 2023

In the field of UX design, certain principles from psychology can greatly impact the overall user experience. These laws help create more intuitive and human-friendly experiences.

UX design aims to create digital experiences that are efficient, effective, and enjoyable. Jakob's Law is a key principle in UX design, which we will explore in this article. We will also examine its practical applications in UX design.

What is Jakob's Law?

Jakob’s Law is named after Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert and co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group. The law is also referred to as “Jakob’s law of the internet user experience”. The law states that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they are already familiar with. Put simply, users want familiarity. Jakob’s Law explains that users have certain expectations of digital products based on their past experiences. As a result, when users encounter something new, they compare it to their past experiences to determine its usability. If a digital product does not meet the user’s expectations, they may find it frustrating and difficult to use. This principle highlights the importance of designing products that are familiar and consistent with user expectations.

Examples of Jakob’s Law in Practice


Image Source: google.com

Users expect to fill out forms in a certain way, such as putting their name first and their email address second. This is because they are used to seeing forms arranged in a standard format that they have grown accustomed to. It is important to keep this in mind when designing forms for your website or application. Google Forms allows you to change the order of the fields in your form and can record your email without typing it in, but you should always put a name and email field in (unless the form is supposed to be anonymous). In addition to the order of the fields, it is also important to consider the labels and instructions that accompany each field. Clear and concise labels and instructions can help users fill out the form correctly and efficiently. If you are not using a pre-made layout like on Google Forms, it is important to spend time thinking about the design and layout of your forms to ensure that they are user-friendly and easy to complete.


Mockup by Pixsellz, Images by: Cash Macanaya on Unsplash & Photo by Dynamic Wang on Unsplash

Users expect to be able to scroll vertically to see more content, especially on mobile devices. This is because modern websites and apps are designed to be responsive and optimized for smaller screens. The ability to scroll vertically allows users to easily access more information without having to navigate to different pages or screens. TikTok is well known for its infinite scrolling feature, making sure you never have to leave its ‘For you” page. This structure allows for access to endless information all while scrolling vertically on the same page.

E-Commerce Sites

Image Source: nike.com

E-commerce sites are a prime example of how Jakob's Law can be applied in UX design. Online shoppers have certain expectations based on their previous experiences with other e-commerce sites. For example, they expect to see product images, descriptions, and prices on a product page as you can see here with Nike. They also expect to see a shopping cart icon in the top right corner of the site and an add-to-bag button on the right side of the product page. Nike is like countless other e-commerce sites that follow this structure. By adhering to these common design patterns, e-commerce sites can create a more intuitive user experience that is familiar to their users. This can help to increase user satisfaction and encourage repeat visits.

Applying Jakob's Law in UX Design

Designers can apply Jakob’s Law to create more effective and user-friendly digital products. Here are some ways to apply Jakob’s Law to your designs:

Use familiar UX patterns

Template gathered from Relume

It is important to stick to common design patterns and conventions that users are already familiar with, reducing the amount of time needed for users to learn how to use your product. For example, using icons for certain functions (such as a trash can for deleting items) can be helpful for users who have experience with other applications that use similar icons. Additionally, placing the cookie consent banner at the bottom of the screen can make it easier for users to find since they expect it to be there. Some other examples of this would be: putting the “previous” button on the left and the “next” on the right, putting the “submit” button on the right and “cancel” button on the left, etc.

Be consistent

Image gathered from Relume

To ensure consistency across your interface, it is important to use the same wording, colors, and fonts throughout. Consistency helps users feel more comfortable and familiar with your app or site while establishing your brand identity and creating a sense of professionalism. Using consistent design elements can also aid in navigation and improve the overall user experience. In addition, it is important to consider the context in which these design elements will be used and how they may impact the user's perception of your brand. By taking these factors into account, you can create a cohesive and effective design that enhances your overall brand image.

Test your design

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

To ensure your design is user-friendly and meets your target audience's needs, conduct thorough user testing. Gather feedback from real users and observe how they navigate through it. Users may offer examples of other digital products that they enjoy using or point out how your design differs from another more common interface. Identify pain points or areas of confusion, and make adjustments accordingly. User testing can also give you insights into how users perceive your design and what features are most useful. It's a critical step in the design process that can help you create a more effective product.


In conclusion, Jakob’s Law highlights the importance of creating digital products that are familiar and consistent with user expectations. Designers can create more effective and user-friendly digital products by using familiar design patterns and conventions, maintaining consistency in design elements, and conducting thorough user testing. By considering these principles, designers can create products that successfully meet user needs. Remember to prioritize user feedback and make adjustments accordingly to create a more efficient, effective, and enjoyable user experience.

If you would like to learn more about Jakob’s Law, please feel free to look at this curated list below:

If you haven't read the other two installments in our UX Design Principle series, click here.