The practice of creating engaging, efficient user experiences is called User-Centered Design—taking the user experience into account as you develop your product.

The Elements of the User Experience

The experience that you will be creating for the user should be a result of a well planned set of decisions that will serve the purpose of making your site a success for you and your user. The decisions you will make on designing a coherent, intuitive and pleasant experience for the user will be based one (plane) upon the other in a strategic and hierarchical method:

(Garrett) The Elements of the User Experience, p. 24

(Garrett) The Elements of the User Experience, p. 24

  1. The Surface Plane: On the surface you see a series of web pages made up of images and text that will tell you where you are, where you can go and what is here.
  2. The Skeleton Plane: Beneath the surface is the skeleton of the site – the layout and placement of where those buttons, images and text are to be for maximum effect and efficiency of your site.
  3. The Structure Plane: The structure of your site is a more concrete expression of the skeleton of your site – defining hoe the user got to the page they are on and where else they could go. The skeleton might define the arrangement of the navigation while the structure would define what those categories actually were.
  4. The Scope Plane: As the structure defines the way in which the various features and functions of the site fit together, the scope defines what the purpose behind those features and functions are.
  5. The Strategy Plane: The scope of your website is fundamentally determined by the strategy of your site – what the company is trying to gain from the website and what they want the users to leave their site with.

The five planes of the User Experience provide the conceptual framework for talking about the user experience problems and the tools (assignments) we will use to solve them:

The Elements of the User Experience, by Jessie James Garrett

The Elements of the User Experience, by Jessie James Garrett

This portion of the Premium Design Works website is written by Mike Sinkula for the Web Design & Development students at Seattle Central College and the Human Centered Design & Engineering students at the University of Washington.

  1. Jonathan Paddock says:

    I haven’t had a chance to sift through the methodology of the Baymard Institute, but this could be an interesting resource for e-commerce data: http://baymard.com/checkout-usability/benchmark/top-100

  2. Cass says:

    two years later and still coming to this page – Thanks Mike.

    Now what’d you learn at UW HCI school? :) huh, huh?


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