Experience Design Principles

“Fast, Obvious, and Forgiving” – These principles define the standard we’re setting for the Mattermost experience. If installing, using, or managing Mattermost feels anything less than “Fast, Obvious, and Forgiving”, let us know (forum, Twitter), so we can fix it.


Fast has two parts: being responsive and being quick.

Responsive means when a user clicks, taps, types or otherwise enters input we give immediate feedback that the input is received and something is happening. It could be a spinner animation, or just some text saying “Loading”, but something always responds to the user.

Quick means things happen as soon as they can. Loading pages, sending messages, receiving notifications and other vital actions should be automatically benchmarked for performance. Bugs should be opened on performance regressions.


Obvious means users are never confused. Layout, labeling, color selection, help text, documentation–it’s critical that everything we offer makes sense in the mind of the user. It’s more important to be consistent across all our device experiences than it is to be technically accurate.

If a user doesn’t understand how to use a feature, the all the underlying effort and code is wasted. The “Obvious” design principle also flows from our user interface to our Documentation Guidelines.

Implementing for the obvious principle means understanding the concepts and frameworks with which users are already familiar, and aligning to those standards, so nothing in Mattermost looks unfamiliar.

Given Hick’s Law, core functionality should be apparent, and advanced functionality should be possible via sub-menus.


Forgiving means there’s no such thing as user error–it’s always the fault of the product. This mindset means we can fix problems coming from users making unexpected decisions. Fixes could be through user interface improvements, adjustments to help text, or helping users recover when things go wrong–adding undelete, undo and rolling back for example.

Forgiving extends to compatibility as well, and whether you’re working from a PC, phone or tablet, Mattermost should adjust to reasonably serve your device, screen size, and major browser type.