18
November
2005

The User Experience equation 00:03 on Friday

What are the parts of a good user experience? This question is posted on so many blogs and websites. For a few years I’ve thought about the interplay of convenience and user experience, but it always struck as slightly too utilitarian for me.

I hereby propose my equation for user experience:

Convenience + Design – Cost = User Experience

The User Experience equation chart

The chart above displays this hypothesis in a visual way. I realize the chart is pretty ugly at this point, so I will explain and open it up a little.

For clarity I will simply talk about products from now on when I refer to any kind of product: physical, virtual, service, anything.

Convenience is the king. What makes a product convenient is quite often what makes it usable. It might also relate to the availability of the product. It might also have something to do with laziness and productivity. Defining “convenience” is by no means an easy task. As is with everything else in this chart, convenience is subjective.

Design is what makes a product liked and attractive, even before it has been used. Design is what makes you want the product. It is beauty, the touch of a famous designer, a likable company, character—pretty much what brand value is thought to be.

Cost is … cost. How much money do you need to shell out to have the product. One of the things I like about this graph is that it shows how design, or brand value is exchangeable with cost, and links all that to the importance of user experience. Is the product free? Then maybe you will acquire and be quite happy to use the product even if it is ugly.

Cost could also mean the cost of ownership, although my gut feeling is people don’t think about that too much. They’re more than happy to buy unnecessarily huge cars and pay for lots of gas. Or maybe it’s just the chart at work: the emotional benefit of having a big car outweighs the raised cost of ownership.

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