One of my favorite frameworks is the UX honeycomb framework. It’s a simple way to distill complex information— and it’s important to clearly and simply explain ‘why’ in plain language for non UX-experts (UXperts? Sorry). It’s also an easy model to keep in mind when you’re trying to juggle all the different user needs.
The UX honeycomb framework consists of five tenets to meet user needs:
Catering to these five tenets of user experience is the secret to creating valuable web content that people want to read. I’ll break down what each of those tenets mean, what they look like in action, and tips for your content strategy.
What does Useful mean in UX Terms?
When your content, website, or tool is useful, it’s original and solves user wants and needs. Useful content genuinely helps people. It’s unique and difficult to replicate or find elsewhere. Useful content completely covers a topic and helps users solve a pain point, so they don’t have to look anywhere else. In short, if your content isn’t useful, it’s not worth creating.
Usefulness in Action
In the above example from Healthline, the article thoroughly covers the topic at hand. It includes links that enable the user to easily navigate to parts of the article that are most pertinent to them. The content is deep, research-intensive, and difficult-to-replicate, especially because it includes many sources compiled in one place and fact-checking from medical experts. It’s a useful and complete content piece that solves the pain point of educating the reader on acid reflux.
How to Make Your Content Useful
- Use plain language and break down jargon
- Stay on topic for user intent
- Thoroughly cover topics
- Use primary sources, unique research, or other means of creating truly original, helpful content
- Help users solve complex pain points
- Share information that can’t be found elsewhere
What does Desirable mean in UX Terms?
Desirability is probably my favorite tenet of the UX honeycomb framework. When you create something that’s desirable, you’re solving pain points the user didn’t realize they had. In other words, you’re going far beyond meeting expectations. You’re surprising and delighting users.
Desirability in Action
Since launching their site, Airbnb has added all kinds of desirable content. Most users visit the website to book vacation rentals. With the addition of Airbnb Experiences, the company has expanded from meeting known needs to meeting unknown needs. While you’re on the site, you may see these callouts and book experiences for your next vacation. Or you may skip a trip all together with experiences to do in your home—a smart pivot to meeting unknown needs during the pandemic, when people were traveling less.
How to Make Your Content Desirable
- Meet user expectations, and then go beyond
- Develop personas and user journey maps to uncover additional user needs
- Educate your users on their unknown needs
- Enable users to seamlessly navigate your site to discover related content
What does Accessible Mean in UX Terms?
When you create content with accessibility in mind, you’re enabling people with a wide range of abilities to easily understand your content and use your site. If someone is hard of hearing, blind, or unable to use a mouse, you want to ensure they can easily navigate and use your website. Guidelines from the Web Accessibility Initiative distill accessibility into four main principles:
- Perceivable: Users can consume & interact with content in different ways.
- Operable: Users can easily navigate content.
- Understandable: Text is readable and content appears in a predictable way.
- Robust: Content is compatible with assistive tools.
Accessibility in Action
One of the easiest ways you can make your content accessible is to accompany images or videos with text descriptions. In the above example, the video includes closed captions, so you don’t need the audio. You could also include a transcript of the video content in the description for even easier readability.
Another easy way to check for site accessibility is to use tools to see how your site looks with different forms of color blindness. In the above example, I used Toptal’s Colorblind Web Page Filter in grayscale. You can plug in any URL and choose to view the webpage through different color blindness filters, including red/green color blindness. Ensure text is legible and you can see the images.
How to Make Your Content Accessible
- Include alt text descriptions for images, videos, and audio files
- Create captions or transcripts for videos or audio files
- Present content in different ways
- Use tools to test how the colors on your site look to people with different color blindness
- Include clear titles, headlines, and subheadlines
- Ensure content markup is correct
What Does Credible Mean in UX Terms?
Show your users why they should trust you. In the SEO realm, you may hear the term EAT, which is not food-related but an acronym. Essentially, Google and users alike judge content and websites on whether they’re showcasing Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
- Expertise: Your content showcases expert authors, reliable sources, and first-hand knowledge.
- Authority: You’re quoted by others. Other websites link to yours as an authority.
- Trustworthiness: You show social proof, trust symbols, contact info, and details about your company.
Credibility in Action
Nectar, an online mattress company, exhibits credibility on their website through awards and customer reviews. Because Nectar sells mattresses online, it has to quickly and effectively build credibility with its users because a mattress is usually an expensive purchase that people want to test in real life before purchasing. By leveraging social proof, Nectar successfully builds enough trust for people to make a purchase, sight unseen.
How to Make Your Content Credible
- Write a thorough “About Us” page with photos and staff
- Include author bios, centered on expertise
- Create a clear “Contact Us” page
- Show awards
- Add a “featured on” section
- Include logos of companies you’ve partnered with or that you’ve done work for
- Include testimonials
- Only ask for contact info that’s necessary
What Does Findable Mean in UX Terms?
Have you ever visited a website and immediately bounced because it wasn’t easy to navigate? People want to find your content when they need it— in the right place at the right time. Once people visit your site, they want to be able to easily navigate next steps. Users should be able to seamlessly find what they’re looking for and navigate the site without it taking much effort (or cognitive load). In other words, the content on your site should be findable. The organization of your website and content should be scannable and easy to follow, with information presented logically, including navigation, categories, linking, and calls-to-action.
Findability in Action
I’m obsessed with the easy findability on World Spice Merchants’ website. You can easily use the navigation and see how it’s organized. You can search by category, look at an A-Z list, browse by region, or explore by food category. The site is clearly organized by how people think about their needs and want to browse. Even clicking the “search” box will give you ideas on popular searches paired with photos. It’s a masterpiece in information architecture.
How to Make Things Findable on Your Website
While this is hardly an all-inclusive list, here’s how you can make things findable on your website:
- Build your navigation based on user goals
- Always have clearly outlined next steps for users
- Be specific with your calls-to-action
- Clearly label buttons and links, so users know where they’re going next
- Tag your pages, posts, and categories correctly and logically
- Include an easy-to-use internal search function
- Chunk your content in ways that it’s easy to scan
- Write clear headlines and subheadlines based on search intent
- Include a Table of Contents with jumplinks for long-form content
What Does Usable Mean in UX Terms?
In UX terms, when a website or product is usable, it simply means it’s easy to use. I’m sure you can imagine a time when you visited a website and it was literally unusable for one reason or another. Perhaps it took too long to load. Maybe links were broken. Maybe you tried using a tool, but it didn’t work.
Nielsen Norman Group— my favorite source for UX know-how— breaks down usability into six quality components:
- Learnability: When a user visits a site for the first time, is it easy for them to accomplish their goals on the first try?
- Efficiency: Can users perform tasks quickly?
- Memorability: Can return users easily remember how to use your site or tool?
- Errors: What errors do users encounter or make while trying to accomplish their goals?
- Satisfaction: Is the website or tool pleasant to use?
- Utility: Can the website or tool provide users with what they need?
Usability in Action
You’ve probably noticed that many websites, apps, and tools will include pop-up messages, callouts, or overlays when they’ve made an update to their look or navigation. In the above example from the Alaska Airlines mobile app, they notify users of a change in how to navigate in the menu. In guiding users through any changes made to a site or app, the hope is to help users with learnability, efficiency, memorability, satisfaction, and utility before they encounter errors or frustration.
How to Make Things Usable on Your Website
- Optimize pages for site speed, so they load in a timely manner
- Design for mobile-first, so it’s usable across platforms
- Include tooltips and callouts to help people use your site
- Ensure all pages and links load and work correctly
- Test usability of your site across mobile, desktop, and tablets, in different browsers, in different geographic areas
- Conduct user research and see how first-time users interact with your site and what snags they encounter
In this article, I really only scratch the surface of the UX Honeycomb Framework. Though the framework is simple, it’s difficult to effectively, consistently create content that’s useful, desirable, accessible, credible, findable, and usable. But it’s certainly a goal all content creators should strive for in a never-ending pursuit to cater to user experience.