Jakob’s Law

Jakob’s Law: Leveraging Familiarity to Enhance User Experience

Jakob’s Law, one of the key principles in user experience design, states that users spend most of their time on other websites and as a result, prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know. This law highlights the importance of designing interfaces that align with users’ expectations based on their experiences with other sites.

What is Jakob’s Law?

Jakob’s Law, formulated by Jakob Nielsen, a prominent usability expert, emphasizes that users’ familiarity with common design patterns and conventions significantly influences their interactions with new websites or applications. When interfaces adhere to these familiar patterns, users can navigate and interact more intuitively, reducing the learning curve and enhancing their overall experience.

Importance of Jakob’s Law in UX Design

  1. Reduced Learning Curve: By following established design conventions, users can quickly understand how to use a new interface without extensive learning or trial and error.
  2. Increased Efficiency: Familiarity with common design patterns allows users to complete tasks more efficiently, improving their overall productivity.
  3. Enhanced Usability: Interfaces that align with user expectations are easier to use, resulting in a more seamless and enjoyable experience.
  4. Improved User Satisfaction: When users can navigate and interact with ease, their satisfaction with the product increases, fostering positive perceptions and loyalty.

Key Principles of Jakob’s Law

  1. Consistency: Maintain consistency with common design patterns and conventions used in similar products or websites. This includes layout structures, navigation menus, button styles, and interactive elements.
  2. Predictability: Design interactions and behaviors that users can predict based on their previous experiences with other interfaces. This helps users feel more confident and in control.
  3. Simplicity: Avoid unnecessary complexity by using straightforward and familiar design elements. Simplified interfaces are easier for users to understand and navigate.
  4. User Expectations: Consider the expectations users bring from their experiences with other sites. Align your design with these expectations to provide a more intuitive experience.

Applying Jakob’s Law in Design

  1. Research Common Patterns: Study and understand the design patterns and conventions used by popular websites and applications in your industry. Identify which elements contribute to their usability and effectiveness.
  2. Use Standard Components: Utilize standard UI components that users are familiar with, such as navigation bars, search boxes, and form fields. This reduces the need for users to learn new patterns.
  3. Consistent Navigation: Implement navigation structures that follow common practices. For example, place the main navigation menu at the top or side of the page, where users expect to find it.
  4. Familiar Icons and Labels: Use icons and labels that are widely recognized and understood. For example, a magnifying glass for search, a shopping cart for purchases, and a gear for settings.
  5. User Testing: Conduct usability testing with real users to ensure your design aligns with their expectations and identifies any areas of confusion or friction.

Real-World Examples

  1. E-commerce Websites: Many e-commerce sites follow similar layouts and navigation structures, making it easy for users to browse products, add items to their cart, and complete purchases.
  2. Social Media Platforms: Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram use consistent interaction patterns, such as likes, comments, and shares, which users quickly recognize and understand.
  3. Search Engines: Search engines like Google and Bing have similar layouts with a prominent search bar at the top, followed by search results, ensuring users can easily find and use these features.
  4. Content Management Systems: Platforms like WordPress and Squarespace offer familiar dashboard layouts and editing tools, allowing users to manage content without needing to learn a new system from scratch.

Benefits of Following Jakob’s Law

  1. Increased Adoption: Users are more likely to adopt and use products that feel familiar and intuitive, leading to higher engagement and retention rates.
  2. Reduced Support Needs: When users can easily navigate and use an interface, there are fewer support inquiries and issues, reducing the burden on customer support teams.
  3. Competitive Advantage: Providing a user-friendly and familiar experience can differentiate your product from competitors and attract more users.
  4. Positive User Feedback: Users appreciate designs that are easy to use and align with their expectations, resulting in positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations.


Jakob’s Law underscores the importance of leveraging users’ familiarity with common design patterns to create intuitive and user-friendly interfaces. By adhering to this principle, designers can enhance usability, reduce the learning curve, and improve overall user satisfaction.

Ondrej Zoricak
Ondrej Zoricak