User Experience

What are the Five Elements of User Experience Design, and Why Do They Matter?

Manoj Rana
June 28, 2024
min read
What are the Five Elements of User Experience Design, and Why Do They Matter?
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The five elements of user experience collectively contribute to improving overall user satisfaction and design efficiency. Integrating them into the UX design process, we steer in the direction that reinforces a positive experience. 

These five elements are;

  • Surface
  • Skeleton
  • Structure
  • Scope
  • Strategy

These elements represent the foundation of a digital product. It leads to a strategic sculpting of the design components and achieves the desired user experience. Working with Qwary’s design team, I have first-hand experienced the impact these elements can make on the overall design and its resultant user experience.

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Five Elements of User Experience

These five elements are intertwined and dependent on each other, and every level contributes to the successful completion of the next level. These elements progress from Abstract to Concrete (the image will make it clear), where user experience development focuses on the entire process. Still, the user interface focuses only on the surface. 

Five Elements for UX Designs: Surface, Skeleton, Structure, Scope & Strategy
  1. Strategy

Think of it as the foundation on which the entire UX design stands. It represents the “Why” behind the product design. In this, we look at questions like;

  • What sort of problems are you solving for your users?
  • What are the user’s needs, and how can they be fulfilled?

Answers to these questions set the stage for aligning the strategy with business goals and user needs. Having experienced the impact of a good strategy, I reckon that it sets the design process in the right direction while influencing every succeeding element. 

UX Strategy Framework

The right strategy will ensure that you are not just building a shiny product. Instead, it's a solution that resonates with the target audience. Moreover, the right strategy will also prevent scope creep and wastage of resources. 

Once we have a clear understanding of the strategy (WHY), we can move on to define the strategy (WHAT). The strategy acts as a compass to lead you in the right direction and build an understanding of how best to address the user's needs. 

  1. Scope

This is where we define the functional and contextual requirements. While working with Qwary, we curated a long list of features and functions that aligned with our strategy and goals. 

  • Functional requirements include the mobile parts of the solution. So, it will cover aspects like how each feature will interact with the others and what’s their relation. I have seen several projects led astray due to feature overload, which is why aligning the features and functions with the strategy is essential. 
  • Contextual requirements include all information we’ll include to provide value, including media, images, video, text, audio, etc. Knowing these is important as they help identify the project size and the time required to complete every development step. 

Clearly identifying and defining the scope leads to building a hyper-focused and user-centered product. This is a product that will deliver clear value to the end-users and put unnecessary clutter in the backseat. 

From scope, we lead on to Structure, which represents the organization of the features, elements, etc., for optimal user experience. This further defines the information architecture and interaction design plus layout for an intuitive user journey. 

  1. Structure

Nobody can see the structure on which a website, application, etc., is operating. The structure defines three things;

  • How do end users interact with the product/features?
  • How does the system behave?
  • How are all the product elements organized and prioritized?

This invisible structure encompasses information architecture (IA), content organization, and Interaction Design (IxD). That’s why it's important to build the structure with a logical flow. 

  • Interaction Design: It designs how your target audience can interact with the product. IxD works on the basis of consistency, visibility, learning, and feedback. It also identifies how the system responds, which is why your efforts must go into creating meaningful relationships between users and the product. The qualities of a good interaction design are;some text
    • Effectively communicate design interactivity and functionality
    • Differentiates between simple and complex workflows
    • Clearly informs the users about state changes
    • Helps prevent design errors
  • Information Architecture: This represents the way you arrange the content elements on the interface to facilitate human interaction and understanding. A well-established architecture organizes, categorizes, and prioritizes the information according to the people’s needs and businesses.
UI Navigation Structure

In addition to making it easier to grasp the information, a well-thought-out information architecture must be appropriate for the audience and flexible enough to accommodate growth. 

UX experts use one out of the five types of information architecture;

  1. Hierarchical Tree
  2. Nested List
  3. Filtered View
  4. Hub & Spoke
  5. Bento Box

A well-defined information architecture structure prevents users from getting lost and is also considered one of the UX best practices. Now that you have built a solid structure visualizing the design layout and presentation of information is easier, which brings me to the next point, Skeleton. 

  1. Skeleton

This element of user experience describes how information is presented and arranged. This is the level where we begin to consider the UI design, navigation design, and information design. 

I am going to explain them all… don’t worry. 

Basically, the skeleton screen is where you decide what and how the users will see on the product page. Whether it's the presentation of an application feature or the entire website sitemap, experts muster up ideas on what makes a user interact with the system functionality. 

We also build wireframes at this level, which means drawing or sketching the interface layout and structure. From here, the skeleton you build will have three parts;

  • Interface Design is about arranging all the design elements to make the system highly functional and enable users to interact with it flawlessly. 
  • Navigation Design: This consists of the ways a user navigates through the data on the interface. 
  • Information Design: It’s the presentation of information, facilitating easy understanding of the content, layout, etc. 

A well-designed Skeleton gives you two crucial results;

  • Aesthetically pleasing UI
  • Functional UI Design

At this point, I realized the adage, “A good design is not that it looks good, but it also works.” When working on the skeleton element, you will get several opportunities to identify and rectify usability issues, resulting in time saving and resources. 

Important Factors of the Usability Framework

With a good skeleton, progressing to the next stage (Surface) is easier. Everything you decide at this stage sets the groundwork for the strategic placement of buttons, typography, menus, etc. 

  1. Surface

The surface is what the end users will see and interact with, and the elements are set to reinforce the user experience. You can think of it as the culmination of all the work you did for the previous 4 elements coming to life. 

Everything you do at this level is meant to communicate and improve the understanding of all the elements on the screen. The only work you have to do here is to choose the right colors, visuals, and typography. 


A well-designed surface will make the product usable and delightful to interact with, fostering better user engagement. A visually cohesive and intuitive user experience also builds trust. 

The surface represents the culmination of the UX design process. However, I don’t consider it an endpoint; it's an ongoing process. As you gain user feedback, changes in the UX design come naturally, which means you should be prepared to refine all the elements based on user testing and real-world data. 

How UX Elements Work Together?

Essentially, all the elements of user experience are interdependent. The successful implementation of every level decides the effectiveness of the next level. Errors made at Strategy will show their consequences at later stages, which means any decision you make must be reviewed multiple times. 


Moreover, every design decision you take must be flexible. So, if you want to go back from Surface to Skeleton, it will be easy to make the changes. Let me make things a bit clearer for you;

  • We begin with Strategy, which is the foundation of a successful user experience design. 
  • Strategy transforms into Scope when you can successfully translate business and user needs into functionality. 
  • Scope becomes Structure when functionality is redefined through ways of interaction, system response, and data organization. 
  • Based on the structure, each screen of the product is sketched to improve content interaction and information presentation, which gives you the Skeleton. 
  • From Skeleton, once all the decisions are made, this transforms into the final presentation, which is the Surface. 

You can see that every layer is connected and dependent on each other. This is one of the reasons why I always recommend gathering all the teams when building UI/UX design. Every person contributes with their expertise, giving suggestions to curate an impressive interface that improves user engagement. 

Impact of Elements on User Experience

The five elements form a beautiful harmony, leading to a seamless and satisfying user experience. Since each level is pivotal for customer satisfaction, here’s how they impact user experience research and implementation. 

  • Strategy: A clear strategy ensures that the product solves a genuine user problem. It helps ensure that no resources are wasted on feature development.

If you decide to skip this step, it's possible that the product will miss its mark. The elements further can confuse the features that won’t align with the user’s needs. 

  • Scope: A well-defined scope ensures that the product you build has a clear value proposition and that it does not suffer from feature overload or deliver a cluttered user experience. 

Working with an undefined scope can bloat the product with unnecessary features and functionalities. The users might get lost in the maze of features, which means they won’t be able to complete their goals. 

  • Structure: This facilitates the development of an intuitive user journey, wherein you implement information architecture to keep content organized, and interaction design provides a natural flow.

Missing the structure element will build a product labyrinth, which means users will struggle to find the feature or functionality, causing frustration. 

  • Skeleton: This element is necessary to ensure effective usability through preliminary identification and rectification of the potential issues. Using wireframing and prototype plus prototype testing, the user experience is streamlined, revealing potential pain points. 

Not doing so means you will miss usability issues, and real problems might surface later on in the development process. Once the product is built, fixing these issues can be expensive. 

  • Surface: Effective execution of Surface leads to a well-designed and usable product. Such a product builds an emotional attachment with the users, prompting them to take the desired action. 

You can skip working on the Surface, but it will lack functionality or aesthetic appeal. In essence, for a product to do wonders, it must look and feel good while delivering effective functionality. 

Hence, each element in the user experience design plays a crucial role in crafting a memorable customer experience. 

To Sum it Up

For any digital product development, understand that the design is the face of your brand/company. Your focus should be on creating a memorable and recognizable design that engages with your target audience. 

Indeed, looks are important in a design; functionality is the key to delivering a memorable product. The five components of user experience help turn a product into a user-centric solution. 

Your product’s success depends on its user-centricity, and the latter depends on your approach to creating the UX design using the five elements. We have always worked with this mantra at Qwary and have successfully built a successful product. But we also make sure to update the design and its implementation continuously. 


  1. What are the 7 pillars of user experience?

Effective user experience rests on 7 pillars, which are Useful, Usable, Desirable, Findable, Accessible, Credible, and Valuable. These pillars ensure the design you build is customer-centric while ensuring the product delivers the desired value. 

  1. What are the key steps in user experience design?

User experience designing has the following steps

  • Defining the product
  • Conducting user research
  • Research analysis and validation
  • Creating wireframes and prototypes
  • Testing the designs with real user feedback
  • Iterating and improving the design
  • Final execution of design into code
  • Continuous monitoring 
  1. How much time will it take for user experience design analysis?

We cannot specify the time without first knowing the project’s scope and complexity of research. UX designing is an iterative process wherein changes are made to the design recurrently until the final results are achieved. 

  1. Is user experience design research and analysis mandatory?

UX research is an integral part of the design process, as you can discover valuable information that is essential for building customer-centric designs. It helps identify and address design issues early and build user-centric designs. 

  1. How can Qwary help with user experience design research?

Qwary has an impressive suite of tools and solutions you can use to know your customers, validate designs, and integrate customer feedback. With our solutions, you can know the customer’s pulse and test design ideas while authenticating them with data-driven decision-making.