In conceiving this model, I sketched through many other shapes, including circles, hexagons, and even literal iceberg illustrations. Ultimately — the model benefits from the strength, simplicity and stability inherent in a triangle, plus the mystique and mythology of the pyramid.
I first learned about fractals when reading Michael Chrichton’s Jurassic Park as a young adult, and was fascinated by the idea of alternative geometries. Fractals are a recent mathematics field, developed in the 1970’s and described as “a process of successive approximation: a problem-solving method where a succession of approximations, each building on the one preceding, is used to achieve a desired degree of accuracy.” UX Process could be described by the same description, almost word-for-word.
The Sierpinski Triangle is considered a mathematically “attractive fixed set,” but it’s attractive in the aesthetic sense, too. Fractals are deeply compelling as a framework for UX in the way they capsule the medium of time — iterations, keyframes, successive slices — as an aspect of the geometry itself. And as we know, time is a critical element to be managed in the UX process.
Pyramidia and the Eye of Providence
As designers, the satisfaction of witnessing your work product succeed from concept to release can only be described as sacred. The UX fractal hints at this sentiment with the capstone/release section of the diagram.
In the physical world, a pyramidion is the granite capstone of a pyramid or obelisk, consecrated by the ancient Egyptians and thought to be covered in gold leaf. According to Wikipedia, very few pyramidia have survived into modern times, and I like how this rarity hints that good product design is not often realized.
Good product design yields marketplace success, so the Eye of Providencerelates appropriately as inspiration here as well. You may recognize this symbol as the pyramidion shown on the reverse of a United States $1 bill. The Eye of Providence represents the eye of God watching over humanity, and is associated with light and glory.
Like pyramidia and the Eye of Providence, Maslow’s Hierarchy of human needs places the ultimate at the top: self-actualization, built on successive layers of physical and psychological needs. This classic model is basic, and succinct psychological theory. I found it to be great related inspiration, since the best UX professionals are also students of behavioral psychology and the human condition.
I’ve been a gamer all of my life and a loyal fan to the Legend of Zelda title series, and often compared the cross-functional triad of design, product and engineering to the power of the Triforce. In the Zelda universe, the Triforce is a divine artifact forged by the three goddesses who created Hyrule. The three sections of the Triforce separate into the Triforce of Power, the Triforce of Wisdom, and the Triforce of Courage. When united, the wielder of the Triforce can use it to make and fulfill as as many wishes as they want.
In product design — when a colocated team of a product, design and engineering lead come together with trust, mutual respect, talent and intent — the experience of being part of that team, and their work result and productivity, can feel truly incredible. Anything’s possible with the a balanced unity of power with the team. ❒
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