Originally I shared this post as a part of the future UI/UX design guide on Syndicode blog.

Lately, I’ve been diving into UX design research. And despite plenty of resources and tools available out there, it was hard to categorize and complete the information about some things. Maybe, because the design was always a discipline more subjective than objective, and there were billions of the different interpretations for the same things. Such things as UX design pyramid.

Everybody knows that the user needs go from the basics to the top covering some vital things at first and then aiming to fulfill some sophisticated requirements. That what the UX pyramid describes. But there were plenty of variants of its levels. However, I compiled all of them into my own variant (you can see above).

Most of the web and mobile apps gain their popularity with the help of great design.
What should be the perfect User Experience design? The answer to this question can be seen as the list of UX design requirements which should be met on different levels.

The UX design pyramid

The UX pyramid is used for categorizing UX efforts and tracking progress. Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, on the bottom of the UX Pyramid we can find the fundamentals, and on the top — the needs of the higher order.

The UX design pyramid with the user needs

All the levels of the UX pyramid from the bottom to the top:

Level 1: Functional level

This level is complete when the design meets the requirements for the proper work of the product. The design has some purpose and include the key features, works in all modern browsers and passes basic accessibility.

How to improve the functionality of your design? There’s a recipe to prioritize the accessibility by moving the most important tasks in high-value areas; by minimizing the number of clicks from homepage to functionality; and by making scrolls and clicks purposeful.

The other things will help you improving functionality are simple registration process, not requiring the same input multiple times, and making the transactional data saved and retained for users to leave and return.

Don’t forget about the learning curve for the new user that should be simple and intuitive. You can do this by:

  • Making buttons easily associated with the related function;
  • Emphasizing the CTA;
  • Using progress bars for multi-step processes;
  • Adding sorting and filtering functions when they needed;
  • Making additional features stopped or skipped and off by default.

Level 2: Reliable level

This level is complete when the design is available and accurate, with clean and reliable data, used on mobile and standard device types.

How to improve the reliability of your design? First of all, you should be aware of device types the design will be available on and make the design fit all of them. The accuracy depends heavily on the UI part.

Level 3: Usability level

It’s good if users don’t get lost or confused and if they can easily find the content or products they need. That is the point where a website or an application meets basic UX heuristics and best practices.

How to improve the usability of your design? There are a bunch of different methods you can use. First of all, you need usability experts along with user testing to explore your design. Secondly, don’t hesitate to study the best design practices from famous designers and popular resources. Learn about how to conduct heuristic evaluation. To make it even simpler, when you have the design, you can use UX check site to identify the usability issues it might have.

Level 4: Convenient level

This level is completed if users want to use the product and can find situations when they can use it frequently.

How to achieve convenience in your design?

  • Eliminate the physical and cognitive barriers that make using a product or service difficult. That stands for actual convenience.
  • Also, you should improve the user flow to place the content exactly where it is needed.
  • Make the perception experience and expectations clear and smooth.
  • Give your users the control to manage their own experiences.

Level 5: Enjoyable level

Is this product worth sharing? On this level, users invest themselves into the product and promote it, share it with their friends and make it a part of everyday life.

How to achieve the enjoyable level for your design? In some point, this is similar to delightful UX design. So, technically, you can reach it by implementing:

  • beautiful animations;
  • tactile transitions;
  • gestural commands;
  • high-resolution imagery;
  • sound interactions;
  • microcopy;
  • guidance if your users run into errors;
  • navigating hints with questions and advice.

Level 6: Significant

This level is complete when the product with this UX design becomes loved by the users. At this point, I talk mostly about the behavioral experience and reflective level of how the product performs.

How to reach the significant level for your design? You must minimize pain points and reduce the number of obstacles the user might face. The second important thing is personalization. Here your product should help users improve their skills, their health, and their lives. It should be tailored according to their needs and reflect the changes they experience. To reach all of this you should conduct regular researches about your users, their habits and interests. Actually, this is all the UX design is about.

This pyramid can be used as the checklist to follow when you develop the next UX design and to remind you why some experiences fail.

I hope you will consider these points about UX design pyramid when making your next website or application! And thank you for reading!

Additional resources:

  1. What is convenience in UX?
  2. A theory of user delight.
  3. Emotional Design by Don Norman.
  4. Best books and resources for UI/UX designers in 2019.