Designing For A Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs


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Summary

While Maslow’s hierarchy makes sense intuitively, critics point out the scant evidence to support it, particularly the assumption that lower levels must be satisfied before higher levels. The same could be said of the hierarchy of design needs, or even any hierarchy based on Maslow’s. They make sense on the surface but lack in empirical evidence.

These hierarchies are not absolutes that you must follow. As with all design, look at your success criteria to determine your design objectives. Your audience may well prefer an aesthetically beautiful website that has occasional hiccups to a boring website that is perfectly reliable.

There’s no reason why you couldn’t satisfy higher-level needs before completely satisfying all lower-level needs, as long as you understand that some low-level needs are absolutely essential. Naturally, if none of your pages load, then everything else is irrelevant. You will have to remedy that problem before worrying about progressive enhancement.

Look at the design hierarchy as a guide. Most of the time, meeting lower-level needs before attempting to satisfy higher-level needs makes sense. If your website isn’t usable, you will probably want to fix that before giving visitors more ways to be proficient.

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