a critical survey

Cross Section of Hell. [1]

People who design products and services are fond of creating charts that they call “maps”. One kind of map is variously called a journey map, experience map, customer experience map, and customer journey map. You want to cover all bases you could call them customer-experience journey maps, or customer user-experience journey maps. Strangely, “journey maps” almost never describe the movement of people from one place to another.

Sometimes one hears the term “story map”. Story maps are used by writers to plan the major episodes in a story. From a naming standpoint, story maps are spot on…

authors: Mark Marrara and James Lentz

Over the past 80 years or so, the rate of technological change increased so rapidly that it became necessary to create entirely new disciplines and approaches to ensure that the design of new devices and systems aligns with human motivations, abilities, and limitations. These practices go by many names: Human Factors Engineering (HFE), ergonomics, engineering psychology, Human Computer interaction (HCI), usability engineering, User Centered Design (UCD), User Experience Design (UXD), Activity Centered Design (ACD), design thinking and Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) to mention only a few. Although they may differ in details, they…

The inspiration for the title of this publication comes from the title of a book by E.O. Wilson. It may seem odd that a blog about user experience design was inspired by a book by a famous ant scientist. Wilson, a Harvard entomologist and two time Pulitzer Prize winner is sometimes referred to as the “father of sociobiology”.

In addition to his bug work, Wilson has an abiding interest in humanism and its relationship to science. His book “Consilience — the unity of knowledge” took on the challenge of finding unity between the humanities and the sciences.

Our publication has…

authors: James Lentz and Mark Marrara

Personas have been a part of the experience designer’s and researcher’s toolkits since Alan Cooper introduced the term more than 20 years ago (Cooper, 1999). They are now pervasively used in design, marketing and product management (Owens, 2017; de Haaff, 2017). and help to design a variety of experiences with products, tools, and services.

Given their popularity, we might expect consensus in their definition and use but this isn’t the case. Many authors have advocated different approaches for persona construction. More importantly, some now question their value (e.g. Price, 2018; Thelwell, 2017; Massanari, 2010…

Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels

Various human-machine interface design and research theories employ and value user models in different ways. Which is best?

Experience design research has relied upon a variety of techniques over the years to describe users and their requirements for the tools they use to satisfy their needs. These approaches typically have their fans and detractors who argue back and forth about what is the best approach for factoring users into designs. We can gain some insights by considering them all at once.


The anthropometric approach originated in human factors and ergonomic engineering. With it, the properties of people…

For physicists, work is the movement of mass upon the application of force. For the rest of us, work is the effort made to obtain or accomplish something. Laying bricks to build the wall of a house is work undertaken to make a dwelling. From the standpoint of evolution, work is the effort required to survive. An early human chasing down an animal for dinner was work. Cooking it was the work to make it easily digestible and safe to eat.

Human survival doesn’t just involve muscle work. It also includes mental effort. In the hunting scenario, mental effort…

Jim Lentz

Erstwhile natural philosopher. Former comparative psychologist with subsequent careers in human factors engineering, research and design.

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