Often an easy to use and intuitive application is mistakenly referred as good user experience. The reality is it just has good usability. Usability Engineering is only one of the layers that influence a user’s experience whereas User Experience Engineering is the bigger picture that comprises of Visual design, Interaction design, Information architecture, and Content strategy.

Bill Buxton, one of the pioneers in the field of human-computer interaction, currently a principal researcher at Microsoft research, once said that “Despite the technocratic and materialistic bias of our culture, it is ultimately experiences that we are designing for, not things.””.

People do not buy a brand new IPhone solely on its superior functionality or usability. They actually buy the experience that the phone offers. They buy the experience of being independent and free to communicate any time anywhere, informed of the latest happening around the world when they are moving from one place to another and the admiration they receive on choosing the trendy 4inch gadget which is an epitome of excellence.

User experience or UX sums up all these individual experiences. Let’s understand this better from Hassenzahl’s Model of UX. Marc Hassenzahl is a professor at Folkwang University of Arts, Essen, Germany and has done lots of research in the area of UX.

This model assumes that each user assigns some attributes to a product or service when using it. The attributes can all be grouped into four main categories: manipulation, identification, stimulation and evocation. These categories can, on a higher level, be grouped into pragmatic and hedonic attributes. Whereas the pragmatic attributes relate to the practical usage and functions of the product, the hedonic attributes relate to the user’s psychological well-being.

•  Manipulation :  This attribute is about the core functionality of a product and the ways to use those functions. Typically, we relate this quality to usability. A consequence of pragmatic qualities is satisfaction. Satisfaction emerges when a product or service fulfill the user’s goal. Hence manipulation is often considered the most important attribute that contributes to the UX. Usability Engineering deals with this stream of engineering where a product is designed to meet the intended goals in the most efficient way that results in user satisfaction

•  Identification : Like any other product, software product too can describe the user’s personality and preferences. The attributes of the product you chose to use, defines what qualities you value and you become a symbol of that quality. Both Myspace and Facebook are social networking services, providing similar functionalities but the user experience provided by them is different. Myspace gives lot of emphasis on music and personal customization whereas Facebook concentrates on sharing personal experiences. There are many people who would appreciate the musical experience and would like to be identified with.

•  Stimulation : The Pareto principle states that, in many instances 80% of the after effects arise from 20% of the causes. This principle when applied to a web application can translate to, 80% of the users use only 20% of the features available in the application. Therefore the supporters of the traditional usability engineering would argue that the rarely used functionalities should be ignored. But the UX approach is different. The founders of the UX approach think that rarely used functions can enable a hedonic function called Stimulation When applied properly these rarely used features, can stimulate the user and satisfy the users for personal improvement and brilliance. I can give you a simple example. You open Gmail and compose an email and write the sentence “Please see the attached file.” In your email and do not attach any file. The moment you click on “Send” button, you will get the below message box.



This is a functionality of Gmail which would fall in the rarely used category, which has got nothing to do with the core functionality, but kept by Google only to stimulate users.

•  Evocation :  There are many people out there who would still like to play Mario. This is a very simple vintage game with mediocre graphics as per the current standards. But why do people still like to play it? Because of the reason it evokes old memories of childhood – in simple ‘Classical conditioning’. Many people look at a software product also in a similar way. They would like to use particular software because it evokes certain pleasant memories in them.

Peter Morville is the president of Semantic Studios, an information architecture consulting firm. For over a decade, he has advised clients such as AT&T, Dow Chemical, Ford, the IMF, the Library of Congress, and Microsoft. After he broadened his interest from Information Architecture to User Experience, he developed the User Experience Honey Comb.



The Honeycomb defines each facets of User Experience and this is how he explains each of them.

•  Useful :  As practitioners, we can’t be content to paint within the lines drawn by managers. We must have the courage and creativity to ask whether our products and systems are useful, and to apply our deep knowledge of craft and medium to define innovative solutions that are more useful.

•   Usable :  Ease of use remains vital, and yet the interface-centered methods and perspectives of human-computer interaction do not address all dimensions of web design. In short, usability is necessary but not sufficient.

•   Desirable :  Our quest for efficiency must be tempered by an appreciation for the power and value of image, identity, brand, and other elements of emotional design.

•   Findable :   We must strive to design navigable web sites and locatable objects, so users can find what they need.

•   Accessible :   Just as our buildings have elevators and ramps, our web sites should be accessible to people with disabilities (more than 10% of the population). Today, it’s good business and the ethical thing to do. Eventually, it will become the law.

•  Credible :   Thanks to the Web Credibility Project, we’re beginning to understand the design elements that influence whether users trust and believe what we tell them.

•  Valuable :   Our application must deliver value to our sponsors. For non-profits, the user experience must advance the mission. With for-profits, it must contribute to the bottom line and improve customer satisfaction.

Usability might be the most important attribute of a product but it doesn’t completely define how a product feels. How a product feels is defined by the user experience the product offers and it is more than just usability. Steve Jobs once said, “In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”Webinar