James Melzer

Morville's Facets of User Experience Refined?

Peter Morville posted his Facets of User Experience diagram almost exactly a year ago. When it came out, there was discussion about the proper arrangement of the hexagons. I remember Peter explicitly said the arrangement of the facets in his diagram was intentionally arbitrary, because the facets fit together differently in different situations.

My Interpretation of Peter Morville's Facets of User Experience diagram

At the time, I thought the diagram was a slick way to open a customer's eyes, building from something they've heard of (usability) and extending their understanding to all the aspects of experience design. Being a compulsive organizer, I thought that by flipping around a couple of the facets, you could develop a higher order diagram that was even simpler. So I messed with it for a couple train rides back in December of last year. I do a lot of my work on paper on the train or in coffee shops, printing things out and sketching on them. I was shuffling some project files on my desk today and came across this sketch. I liked it, so I drew it in Visio.

My version offers two refinements, as I see them, to Peter's excellent original. The first is the swapping of the accessible and credible facets. This enables the second refinement, grouping the outer facets into two groups: utility and affordance.

  • Utility answers the question does it fulfill the user's need or desire?
  • Affordance answers the question can the user find and use it?
  • The center concept, value, is derived from these two outer concepts, along the lines of utility+affordance=value.

I suspect this refinement is still in keeping with Peter's original intent and doesn't muck with his overall message too much. I want to make sure of that, because his diagram really pops, and I'd hate to muddy that clarity. Putting Peter's user experience diagram alongside Jesse's elements of user experience is also a useful exercise. Jesse deals with the creative process; Peter deals with the qualities of experience itself. There have also been other interpretations of Peter's diagram and the qualities of experience. Austin Govella offered an alternate set of user experience facets. Peter Bailey created a set of diagrams that are similar in visual look but covers different intellectual ground. There are no doubt others, but you'll just have to find those yourself...

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