Monday, March 5, 2007

Response from Peter Morville

Peter Morville responded to my post restructuring the user experience honeycomb in a comment on the original honeycomb article. He says:

It's certainly interesting to consider the order of facets within the context of experience. I'm not sure the linear model holds up in all cases. For instance, I may never try using a product that I don't find credible. And, a linear model doesn't invite consideration of the overlaps and relationships (e.g., the way that findability enhances credibility). But, your version does encourage us to think a little more (and diffferently) about user experience design. Thanks!

This is valuable insight, but I have to disagree with some of the assumptions made by Peter. One of the underlying changes that is made by restructuring the facets in order of experience is that some of the sub-facets is moved. For example, the concept of Brand is not longer in desirability, but becomes a part of findability. Brand vitality and strength increases the likelyhood of being found, and that when found a decision will be made to move forward and attempt access. The consequence is that by ordering the facets in a linear model the facets themselves take on a somewhat different meaning than in the original non-linear model.

By redefining the facets of findability, accessibility, desirability, usability, credibility and usefulness we start to move even further away from the original and maybe the original purpose. At the same time, we get a model that I feel have stronger "explanatory" power when explaining user experience to people outside the field.

To elaborate further, in the context of user experience as a linear model the facets gets the following definitions:

Findability the likelyhood of the website, application, service or product being found and choosen when a user is trying to accomplish a task. Findability in the linear model spans brand strenght, brand vitality, search engine visibility, name and marketing presence.

Accessibility the amount of users who are able to access the website, application, service or product. Accessibility in the linear model spans (for web) response time, browser compatibility, standard compliance, WCAG-2 compliance and Section 508 compliance. Accessibility in the linear model is not confined to users with a disability, but accessibility for all users.

Desirability the amount of users who will like and find appropriate the aestetic qualities and the strength of postitve emotion these qualities generate for the website, application, service or product.

Usability the amount of users that will be able to accomplish their task using the website, application, service or product.

Credibility the amount of users that will be confident that their task will be accomplished without unexpected consequences.

Usefulness the amount of users that accomplishes their task and fulfill their expectations using the website, application, service or product.

This makes the linear model different from the original. The labels are the same, but their meaning is different when viewed in the context of the experience. The linear model also discards Value as a facet, and re-introduces value as a result of the user-experience. The jury is still out on which model is the most useful, but at least it will create some interesting discussions.

Just as I wrote this, Peter included the linear model in a post at

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