Heuristic Principle Explained: Match between system and real world

We are people who create/ produce numerous products in different platform . It can be physical or digital product which is going to be use world people. People have different needs and expectations which is varied across world wide. if the product needs to be successful, it should satisfy end user who are going to purchase and use.

On initial stage product development, product development people should consider target audience needs and expectation and their own perspective. Product needs to be easy to use and satisfy the user.

Usability heuristic principle defined by Jacob Nielsen states as: Match between the system and the real world .

The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order .

•Let me explain about some examples, where this is relevant

The language

Most of the times the users are going to search for you on the internet or are going to navigate within your website using language that should be more natural to them.

Important steps needs to be considered on creating content and define the language

  • Target Audiennce should be addressed
  • Ensure You’re creating the right content, for the right people
  • Better understand how to create content that connect benefits to reader needs

Content what we create which needs to be conveyed through users own language its familiar to them, can be understandable easily, if the content is familiar, users will understand very fast , they don’t need to spend time to study, don’t need to put much cognitive load to understand  system language

Messages to User

Error Message

Error messages like below one is not really very helpful for the end users. The screenshot of the Error message by Windows showing a bad match between the system and the real world

Instead, a improved error message like this, feels less threatening and  creating confident  to the users.

Visual Elements / Metaphor

It is good to have  creativity, but there are some visual elements associated action, familiar to end users, creative should not kill users familiarity, we need to balance between creativity  and usability

For example, a heart symbol associated for wish list Floppy disk for save, basket for cart,  trash bin to delete and lot more familiar metaphor associated with certain actions.


UI elements should carry visual cue and affordance, example •A button should look like a button how the users earlier practiced and familiar. They should feel clickable. When a user clicks a button, it should feel that it has been “pressed”

Pictures and Graphics

Graphics, it is important to use the pictures or videos which match the target audience. The visual should reflect and attached with the target user culture and demographics so that user can feel they are in comfortable zone and we take care of them.

Colors and messages

Seeing the green color, on the contrary, feels like a correct action or a success. This is because beyond screen also, red and green are typically associated with Stop and Go respectively.

When users use a digital product, they may not know the technical jargons and processes associated at the backend.

If you disregard your users’ understanding, and language or imagery, that they do not understand, that can badly affect the whole user experience. We, humans, find great comfort in familiarity. If something is unfamiliar and non-understandable we feel fearful and doubtful.

User Centric Design(UCD) provides opportunity to demonstrate user research, empathy target users and match user needs. The design solution and system what you develop  should match the real world which leads to loyal customer who value your efforts and increase return on investment.