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OUGD603: Design Publication // Research: Hierarchy of UX Needs

Looking again at more phycology based UX research, I've returned to Wouter de Bres, who I also wrote about in this post. 

1. Purpose

At the base of the pyramid there is the most important thing of product design; purpose. Without purpose there isn’t a need for the whole product or feature. If your product does not fulfill a purpose it has no reason to exist at all. Before worrying about aesthetics or usability, start with finding out if there is a purpose for the product or feature.

2. Function

Once we established that there is a need for what we are about to build. The second thing on our list is that it should function. Does the product or feature work and is it even possible to fulfill the purpose. And last but not leat, is it bug free and reliable?

3. Understandable

Once we have a purpose and it functions technically we can start worrying if the user understands how to use it. Can they find it and do they know which actions they have to take to use the product?

4. Easy to use

Great we now have something a user needs, it is technically sound and the user understands how to get the job done. At this level we can start thinking of simplifying the task. Think about removing constraints, giving feedback on user actions and making elements clearly identifiable and clickable.

5. Enjoyable

This is where we reach the pinnacle of User Experience; making the experience of using your product truly enjoyable. Make no mistakes, this is one of the hardest things to achieve.

First of all you can be proud when you reach this point. Creating a product which checked the previous boxes is super hard. To make make the product enjoyable you have to think about great copy, a consistent & fun product personality and stunning aesthetics. Not many products reach this level of awesomeness.


For product designers, including myself, it is a big pitfall to start focusing on the top level needs like aesthetics and personality before the reaching the other levels. So next time when we are working on a new product or feature, stop, think about the UX hierarchy of needs and climb the pyramid, step by step.

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