What makes great UX?

14:48 Jul 4th - Nathan

By now, i think its safe to say we’ve all herd the term User Experience or UX. Its something that should be taken into consideration in every project. Infact, the quality of your project’s UX is often the deciding factor in whether it’s a hit or not. In this post I’m going to explain exactly what is meant by UX and why getting it right is probably a lot more in depth than you think.

A lot more than ease of use

Information architecture sketches

Information architecture sketches

It’s a very common misconception that good UX simply comes from ease of use. I’ve sat in many a meeting where people have tried to “improve the UX” by whittling down every user journey to as few clicks a possible.

Usability is just one of the things to take into consideration when trying to achieve a great user experience. What’s more, depending on your product, complete ease of use may not be desirable. Think about a jigsaw puzzle: A jigsaw with 4 pieces is extremely easy to use, but not fun or rewarding in the slightest, similarly one with 1000 pieces is laborious and boring (unless you’re part of the BDC). It’s often about striking a balance, and that balance will differ from project to project and even from task to task.

The user experience honeycomb

The user experience honeycomb - Peter Morville http://www.melodiesinmarketing.com/

The user experience honeycomb – Peter Morville http://www.melodiesinmarketing.com/

After going through an assortment of different shapes, we like to use the user experience honeycomb as a reference of all the things we need to take into consideration when creating great UX. Heres a brief explanation of each cell:

  • Useful. Does it solve a problem?
  • Usable. Ease of use remains vital, but it is not sufficient.
  • Desirable. Image, identity, brand, and other elements of emotional design are powerful tools, are we using them?
  • Findable. Can our users navigate our product and locate objects?
  • Accessible. Is the content available across devices, on different connection speeds, how about using a screen reader?
  • Credible. Is the user left feeling that we are trustworthy? Thanks to the Web Credibility Project, we’re beginning to understand the design elements that influence this.
  • Valuable. Ultimately, our product will be valuable to our users.

One of the reasons the honeycomb shape is used is its lack of hierarchy. It helps us to understand the need to define the priorities of each project. Websites like Reddit or Gumtree provide their users with great experiences based on usefulness, with very little emphasis on desirability. Conversely, Tumblr’s 120 million blogs – the vast majority of which are simply images aimed at niche interests and sub cultures - are visited by 75 million people every month. They create great UX based heavily on desirability.

In conclusion

How do you create a great user experience? You want your product to have a personal significance to the user, so for starters you have to know who they are and how they use it. Then you can take steps to improve, using the points of the honeycomb as a guide.

If you think you need a UX overhaul, or want you new project to have great user experience baked in from the start, why not get in touch to see how we can help?


  • The concept for the User experience honeycomb was created by Peter Morville
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The Author

Nathan Harrigan

Nathan has many years experience producing web sites and applications. Specialising in front end technologies, he also has a keen interest in information architecture and user experience.

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