A framework for understanding and working with design


Presentation Layer

Focus on designing understandable and pleasing presentation.

Works with for example: style and mood. How to lay out and deliver the message. Tone of voice.


Task layer

Focus on designing optimal functionality and information.

Works with for example: cognitive and mechanical load. Controls and feedback.


Structural Layer

Focus on creating feasible and efficient processes.

Works with for example: processes of organization or IT. Roles. Guidelines. Information structures.


Service Layer

Focus on finding the right problem to solve and suitable way to solve it.

Works with for example: value and growth hypothesis. Focus, definition and scope.

What are the layers?

Layers are an attempt to outline things you can design that influence to user's experience.

These are not design traditions. Competences and skills overlap. Designer's decisions affect on more than one layer.

For example presentation layer is not just about graphics. Presentation is also sounds, surfaces, materials and words. Even as graphical designers or copywriters feel more at home solving problems on presentation layer their skills and thinking can be valuable on other layers.


Ever feel that when designing a complex product it is hard to communicate where the design effort goes?

Layers are created to help communicating that.

The thinking is strongly influenced by idea presented in the Simplicity Shift by Scott Jenson. And layers look bit similar to diagram found in The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garret.

Layers are generic, so they should apply to complex technology products as well as services or spaces. Anything that involves user participating by doing something.

If you want to get in touch with me you can try to tweet @vesa_m. There are some thoughs in an old blog.