The Elements of User Experience


This famous illustration nicely sums up the elements of user experience design. It was created by Jesse James Garrett who also founded Adaptive Path – a user experience consulting company.

As you can see, he defined the layers behind the surface layer of an interface.  Have you heard the saying, “Putting lipstick on a pig”?  Well, that’s what you end up with if you don’t think through the four layers behind the visual design surface.  Because J.J.G. is my hero and because this illustration changed my life, I thought I’d see how much impact he’s had on other people’s lives by using some social media tracking tools to see what people are saying about Adaptive Path.

Using the site I found many mentions of “adaptivepath” and discovered the following sentiment:

1. A YouTube video from UX Week 2013, on Adaptive path’s channel – 203 views and 2 likes (sentiment = +1)

2. A YouTube video from UX Week 2013, on Adaptive path’s channel “How to lead change gracefully” – 110 views and 0 likes (sentiment = 0)

3. A YouTube video from UX Week 2013, on Adaptive path’s channel “The Simplicity Imperative” – 126 views and 0 likes (sentiment = 0)

4. Some cool sketches on Flickr, one titled “Seeing Customer Value Differently” – with 33 views, no comments or favourites (sentiment = 0)

5. An article on Boing Boing from Aug. 2008 which garnered 31 comments – some of which were crotchety but mostly positive (sentiment = +1)

6. A very positive blog link announcing the adaptive path ipad app (sentiment = +1)

7. A blog post on Venture Beat discussing the co-founder (Jesse James Garrett’s partner) is leaving the consulting company to open an agency = (sentiment = +1)

8. An article on the  Scientific American blog on Adaptive Path’s fancy web browser:  Aurora (sentiment = +1)

In hopes of finding stronger mentions on social media I switched to  and found 177 mentions for “adaptive path”.

9. A blog post on the shifting field of user experience design, which linked back to an adaptive path article.  Although the blog boasts 389,266 visitors I saw no comments on this article (sentiment = 0)

10. There are tons of Flickr photos of people happy with the adaptive path conference they attended – 75 views, 0 shares, 0 favourites (sentiment = 0) wasn’t giving me very comprehensive results so I moved to Twitalyzer and learned Adaptive Path has 27,935 followers, an impact score of 5.8 and 56 on Klout.  However, I didn’t get any links to mentions.

In conclusion, the sentiment around Adaptive Path is generally positive.  I’ve realised I’m pretty nerdy for considering this guy my hero and although they have a lot of press out there, not a lot of people are actually talking about them – their fan base a mainly the lurking kind.


What Good User Experience Design Isn’t.

What Good User Experience Design Isn’t.

Whether creating an application, website or software, the goal for designing a good user experience, is to create an easy to use and emotionally appealing interface.  With great responsibility, comes great power and there are those who manipulate this power to get you, the user, to do what they want you to do.

Harry Brignull is a UK based user experience designer, with a PhD in cognitive science.  He is dedicated to, in his words, “naming and shaming websites that use deceptive user interfaces.” He calls these, Dark Patterns and in addition to this article on Verge, he has a website to record the many examples.

I dug this article because he summarizes nicely what a crafty designer can do to confuse the user, complicate settings, and misdirect you in all sorts of ways.  If you’d like to see some examples of good interface design patterns, here is a link to an aggregate of top UI Pattern resources.

“Tell me a fact…

“Tell me a fact and I’ll remember it. Tell me a truth, and I’ll believe you. Tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.” – Steve Sabol

What is the User Experience?

It is recognizing that every single, pain-staking detail of your site, software or application makes an impression upon peoples lives.  That designers have a responsibility to create enjoyable moments with the smart phones, tablets and desktops we spend so much time with.

It is recognizing that the devil is in the details…  And it’s all details.  Just a never ending string of detail after detail after detail.  These interfaces are conceptualized, sketched, drafted, tested, iterated, prototyped, designed, coded, redesigned and tested endlessly again.  If you are working on a short timeline, with a tight budget – why not hire a professional UX designer to help oversee the whole thing?  Why not make it clever?  Make it kind?  Thoughtful, pleasant, and funny?  Why not make it usable?