Hierarchy of Experience

Jon Alling
Nov 30, 2014 · 3 min read

I might be treading in territory I don’t belong with this one, but after being introduced to Technical Debt and the UX Hierarchy of Needs by James Martin, I couldn’t stop thinking about the traditional graphic representation. I’m an engineer, so I look for function in everything, and although the underlying concepts were interesting, the stacked pyramid just wasn’t very useful.

I have also been thinking a lot about lean startup method lately. Any design process or methodology should always include opportunities to test, and the hierarchy of needs didn’t seem any different. But the first question I wrestled with was do you really start with Function and then move onto Reliability and so on, or do you need a little bit of everything right from the start. So to solve my curiosity, I turned the graph on its side.

It immediately seemed more functional. Working from the bottom up, you can try to achieve the desired functionality, but still maintain sight of higher level goals. It also seemed to solve my desire to include tests along the way.

At any stage of development, there is always a component of each experience need. Then when you’ve reached your desired functionality you can test that, but also test if you are on target to reach that next goal. That stays true until you (hopefully) reach your ultimate goal.

Let me know what you think. I’m excited to experiment with it more. I’d love to hear your comments (in this post or on twitter).

    Jon Alling

    Written by

    Engineer… Product Designer… Founder Human | Crafted.

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