A great product not only serves a purpose but is also designed in a way that the user achieves the objective intended with as little friction as possible. When designing an application or a platform, we have to take into consideration the 3 dimensions of digital product design, functional, experiential and visual:

1-) Functional Dimension

Within the functional dimension the designer defines the objective(s) of the product and the steps a user takes in order to achieve the objective. In the functional dimension, the designer starts laying out the link between the user experience and the technical specifications. When the design has been completed, designers, product managers and developers need to start working together in order to understand the relationship between the functionalities required in each stage and the user’s interactions.

2-) Experiential Dimension

The experiential dimension is how a user interacts with your product and how she experiences it. Once the designer has mapped out the different stages of a user’s journey within a product, it’s time to detail what we call an experience map. Good designers use personas, or profiles of users informed by interviews and research in order to understand how a user would like to achieve a goal in order to build the experience map.

As the example below illustrates, in Snapchat’s experience map each stage encompasses a set of interactions or micro-objectives, and each micro-objective must account for a user’s expected behavior to ensure that she will move forward through the user journey. Everything the user does, feels, and thinks at each stage must be detailed and linked to the micro-objectives or interactions (aka where the user is going, in Snapchat’s example, sending a photo or video to a friend). Aside from a description of each stage of the user journey, the experience map contains the following elements:

  • Doing – describes the interactions or the steps that the user takes in each step to move forward in a product or application.
  • Thinking – after detailing each step of the “Doing” part, you move to “Thinking”. The goal of this part is to list all the questions a user might ask herself and the reasons she chooses to continue using the product in each phase.
  • Feeling – after detailing the questions the user might ask, you have to also identify her emotional state based on where she is in her product/app usage. The job of the user experience designer is to create ways to address the negative feelings that may block the user from moving forward

Snapchat’s Experience Map:

Snapchat Experience Map Digital Product Design Example

3-) Visual Dimension:

The final layer of design is the visual dimension. The visual dimension represents all the visible elements the designer uses to influence a user’s behavior through the interface with which the user interacts. When designing an interface, the designer tries to capture the user’s attention, convey a feeling and influence an action or a series of actions. In order to do this, the designer uses a combination of elements such as colors, images, texts, buttons and calls to action.

You know the process for creating a good product, but how do you know if a product is well designed? Good design and bad design – what the f*** does that mean?

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to answer this question without a system of measurement. Any other way of looking at the quality of design is subjective and based on an each individual’s own interpretation. The role of the designer is also to step back, ask questions and evaluate if her design is delivering value. The way to do it? With metrics, the topic of our next article.

Want to learn more about how to implement product analytics for your company? Download our paper, “The 3 components of behavioral analytics for products.”