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The Characteristics & Principles of User Experience

Design is iterative, right? While creating part two of the two-part “characteristics” diagram (part one: The Essential Characteristics of User Experience), I realized that it was actually a three-part diagram and that what I had created first, was actually last! So now it reads:

  1. An introduction of “characteristics” and “principles”. (pdf | jpg)
  2. The characteristics. (pdf | jpg)
  3. The principles – formerly part one, “essential characteristics”. (pdf | jpg)

My thanks to Rob Weening, one of my colleagues at work, for helping me see this “re-frame”.  His flash of inspiration was that the characteristics are the building blocks of an experience (the “what”) and principles are how an experience is put together (the “how”).  The dodgy DNA analogy in the diagrams, however, is all my fault.


P.S.  Dave reminded me with his comment that the ten characteristics are almost certainly not an exhaustive list, they’re just a start.

The Essential Characteristics of User Experience

The Essential Characteristics of User ExperienceThere has been some discussion in the past few months about establishing a “language of critique” for user experience design. Jesse James Garrett may have started it with his closing plenary at the 2009 IA Summit in Memphis, it filled the IAI and IxDA mailing lists for a while and Erin Malone and James Melzer, among others, have blogged about it.

Here is my contribution (see the pdf), yes its a diagram. Its the first half of a two part diagram called “The Characteristics of User Experience”, this first part being the essential characteristics – the second part, coming soon, will be the secondary (or auxiliary, or periphery, I haven’t decided yet) characteristics.

Useful, Usable and Desirable have been touted for a long time as the hallmarks of a “good” user experience but they’re too generic and abstract. I think the five characteristics in this diagram are essential to any user experience being “good”. I’d love comments to stress test this!

BoA does UX

boaSo Bank of America seem to have embraced the “User Experience” term. (thanks to Chuck Haeberle for finding this).


During the closing plenary of the IA Summit on Sunday, Jesse James Garrett said that “Information Architecture is not a profession … and neither is Interaction Design … we have and always will be User Experience Designers”. I’m paraphrasing a little from memory (the podcast isn’t out yet) – but the gist is there.

I’m a big believer in this viewpoint (and I chaired the IA Summit last year!). I believe that both IA and IxDA are disciplines or “fields” – but are inseperable enough that the “job” is User Experience Designer. This puts the emphasis on the end product rather than the tools we use to achieve it.

So … to see if I can start some kind of grass roots movement i’ve set up – go there and sign the petition to show you believe too!

Viva Memphis

Just a quick update (for both of my readers – lol). I’m getting ready for my trip to the IA Summit in Memphis. I leave on Tuesday and I still have to polish the two posters i’m taking, The Foci of User Experience and the Context of User Experience. I’m hoping to get some great discussion and feedback on them – so if you’re going to the summit, stop by the reception on Friday night and i’ll see you there!

The Swiffinator

swiffinatorWe have 17 sets of wooden window blinds in our house. They’re dust magnets and I hate cleaning them so I offer my latest invention to the world (i’m sure its been done before). Meet the Swiffinator.

Cut to the Chase


Oh dear. Yet another customer service blunder. the funny thing is I didn’t even notice the original error!

Top down or bottom up politics?

Someone at work sent me this Republican Reboot article, which crystalized the thing thats been bothering me about politics in general (in the UK and USA) for so long.  Namely, the “top down” nature of political parties.  Its probably naive of me, but i’ve always thought that political parties should be representations of the ‘will of the people’ (thats why they’re called ‘representatives’ in congress right?). Should parties really rebrand themselves – looking to attract new voters to their beliefs, or should they really be realigning themselves to the popular will of the people? This is what excited me about Obama’s campaign (and his win) – its the most ‘will of the people’ effort i’ve seen in politics for years.

Madagascar 2: Escape from the Movie Theatre

While my parents are here from the UK we all took the boys (Adam, almost 6 and Alex, 3 1/2) to see Madagascar 2. Since they liked the first one so much and have watched it repeatedly on DVD we had high hopes, which were sadly dashed. Its a poor reflection on filmmakers when a movie for young kids has to resort to gun pointing and repeated (and it could be argued – senseless) violence to get laughs. Do yourself and your kids a favor, give it a miss.

Note to Notes Designers

notes1Hey Lotus Notes designers! IA 101 – don’t put a menu choice I use all the time (Open Calendar For…) next to one that I never use (Import Holidays…) that takes 30 seconds to perform with no way to abort! Bad design.

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