Hierarchy of UX Needs

Wouter de Bres
May 27, 2014 · 3 min read

What we want in life depends on what situation we are in. Someone living in a war zone without a roof above their head will probably feel no need for a yoga class, beautiful clothes or classical concert. According to psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow all behavior is motivated by a need, and those needs have a strict order and hierarchy, resulting in the pyramid of needs:

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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,
with the more basic needs at the bottom.

It all starts with the need for physiological needs like food, shelter and sleep, followed by safety, love and warmth. Once you have those basic needs covered and reach the top of the pyramid you start worrying about self-esteem and self-actualization.

For User Experience Design we can also create a hierarchy of needs. A user goes through the different states of motivation before caring for the next need. There have been several articles about a UX hierarchy of needs, like this one or this one, but I believe they got the hierarchy wrong and they are missing the most important need for a product,Purpose. Therefore I created a new hierarchy of UX needs:

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My hierarchy of User Experience needs,
with the more basic needs at the bottom.

1. Purpose

2. Function

3. Understandable

4. Easy to use

5. Enjoyable

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. I would love to hear from you what products you think have reached this point => Tweet me


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If you are interested in UX design you might also like my learning flow “User Experience from A-Z” on Gibbon.co.

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