Websites Designed with YOUsers In Mind


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In my last post, I discussed the importance of creating self-evident, or at least self-explanatory, websites. You might be wondering why it is so important for websites to be shaped in such an obvious way. In this post, I’m hoping to make sense of an answer. Great websites, websites that don’t create frustration or confusion for viewers, are created with the user in mind.

The user is YOU. And me. And every other person who views, or could potentially view, that particular website. When website designers focus on the user experience, they can create successful sites.

What is user experience (UX)?

Jesse James Garrett, in his book The Elements of User Experience, defines user experience as:

The experience the product creates for the people who use it in the real world. When a product is being developed, people pay a great deal of attention to what it does. User experience is the other, often overlooked, side of the equation– how it works–that can often make the difference between a successful product and a failure (6).

UX designer, Matthew Magain, explains the brains behind user experience and user centered design

Garrett claims that focusing on user experience when designing a website is important for many reasons, one reason being that a purely business centered or aesthetically centered site confuses the reader. This confusion usually leads to frustration, and many times web users tend to blame their lack of success with the site on themselves. How many times have you clicked away from a site because you felt you were missing something, like you were causing the problem?

The Five Planes of UX

To eliminate these users’ feelings of stupidity, Garrett gives us guidelines to to shape our web design around user experience. He lays these out in five stages, or five planes (20-21).


  • Strategy– The foundation. The main goal of your site.
  • Scope– The specific uses. What users will accomplish on your site.
  • Structure– The navigation. How your users will get around your site.
  • Skeleton– The visual arrangement. The placement of general elements within the site.
  • Surface– The visual specifics. What users see, such as images and texts.

As you can see, each plane becomes more concrete as it grows from strategy to finally, surface. Its interesting because we as users, tend to notice the more concrete planes, such as the eye catching fonts and navigational organization.

However, each plane is equally important because the surface and skeleton planes would not be appealing or enjoyable experiences to us if designers had not taken the time to formulate a user centered strategy.

Take a closer look at what each plane entails.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever been so discouraged by your lack of understanding on a website that you stopped using it?
  2. Which plane do you feel like you as a web user most often recognize?

Until next blog,



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