Five Elements of UX Design

Published Jun 13, 2022Updated Jan 5, 2024
Contribute to Docs

The five elements of UX design, from abstract to concrete, are strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, and surface. This model was created and defined by designer Jesse James Garrett in The Elements of User Experience. User experience (UX) design encompasses the entire process, while user interface (UI) design primarily focuses on the surface.

The Five Elements of UX Design, from concrete to abstract: Surface, Skeleton, Structure, Scope, and Strategy, with UX design encompassing the entire process, and UI design focused on the Surface.

  • Strategy: What problem is this product intended to solve? This layer, the most abstract of the model, takes into consideration both user needs and business goals.
  • Scope: What is the product that will be created to solve the problem? Within this layer, the team defines functional requirements (what features to build) and content requirements (written and visual information to include).
  • Structure: How is the design organized and how do interactions work? This layer includes information architecture (the structure and organization of content) and interaction design (the interactive experience of the product).
  • Skeleton: How is information presented and arranged? This layer begins to consider UI design (design of interface elements), navigation design (how users move through a system), and information design (presenting information to facilitate understanding). A common output at this stage is a set of wireframes.
  • Surface: How does the product look and feel to users? This stage emphasizes visual design, for example, what colors and typefaces are used, and is the stage where UI design is front and center (though it is not exclusive to the surface).

In general, product teams work from the abstract “Strategy” layer through increasingly concrete layers all the way to the “Surface,” though in practice, there is likely to be some overlap and iteration between layers.

All contributors

Looking to contribute?

Learn UI and UX Design on Codecademy