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The Triforce of UX

I love metaphors and analogies; they make complicated stuff seem simple. Here’s my take on what I believe are the core elements of user experience: the Triforce of UX – feel, perceive, convey.

User Experience happens whether it is intentionally designed or not. It surrounds us and binds our reality with the rest of the world. But because the ultimate effect of the experience is subjective, and therefore unique to every being, it is complex to understand and replicate. In short, people are different and experiences will be as well. And that’s the beauty of it!

Each new experience is forged in the fire of our minds, by content, perception, and action. These can be subdivided in many other ways, but to me, it’s simpler to understand this way. Content is why we are having that experience, our purpose and essence, our one true king. Perception is how we have that experience, the way we interact and our minds travel from A to B in our journey to mastery and discovery and action is the path we take to embrace the challenges and emerge with our quest reward. 

Eric wrote a great article about content last week, but I’d like to add a few things. While we love to divide things to conquer, we feel them as a whole, so the content is actually the essence of all things. And all the experiences we have and how we save and savor them in our minds, using Eric’s metaphor, I would add that we FEEL the content as all the king, queen, kingdom and jester powers combined. This takes me to my next point.

PERCEPTION is how we experience things, and while our content is magic, we don’t deal in absolutes. We are subject to many variables: we have bad days, become stressed, are in a hurry, etc. This may seem irrelevant, but every valuable experience is a journey to mastery, we learn to understand and embrace those experiences until they become a part of us. Brain research shows that having a good time impacts directly in authentic memory so taking in account the external variables to make it a better experience, or reducing the negative impacts of the environment, might just make the difference between “just another experience” and a really valuable one. 

Action (or the lack of) is what we do to CONVEY the experience. There are many different media and processes, all with their needs, methods, and results, so choosing the correct weapon and using it correctly is crucial. However. even more critically, we need to respect differences and design properly for each one. For example, a website and a printed manual might achieve the same results, but through very different paths in our brain – and that should be considered while designing.

I’ll conclude by saying that while I agree with some authors who tell us experience cannot be fully designed, taking these three forces into consideration, we can give experiences a strong push in the right direction regardless of our control on the situation. And this is what allows us to choreograph experiences that become valuable, memorable, and have meaning. Those are the powerful adjectives to be reckoned with in our business. And we achieve this through the triforce: feel, perceive, convey.

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