Human needs unfolded

Physical sustenance

  • Air
  • Food/Water
  • Health
  • Movement
  • Physical safety
  • Rest / sleep
  • Shelter
  • Touch


  • Consistency
  • Order/Structure
  • Peace
  • Peace of mind
  • Protection
  • Safety
  • Stability
  • Trusting


  • Humour
  • Joy
  • Play
  • Pleasure


  • Appreciation
  • Attention
  • Closeness
  • Companionship
  • Harmony
  • Intimacy
  • Love
  • Nurturing
  • Sexual expression
  • Support
  • Tenderness
  • Warmth


  • Awareness
  • Clarity
  • Discovery
  • Learning


  • Choice
  • Ease
  • Independence
  • Power
  • Self-responsibility
  • Space
  • Spontaneity


  • Aliveness
  • Challenge
  • Contribution
  • Creativity
  • Effectiveness
  • Exploration
  • Integration
  • Purpose


  • Acceptance
  • Care
  • Compassion
  • Consideration
  • Empathy
  • Kindness
  • Mutual recognition
  • Respect
  • To be heard / seen
  • To be understood
  • To be trusted
  • Understanding others


  • Belonging
  • Communication
  • Cooperation
  • Equality
  • Inclusion
  • Mutuality
  • Participation
  • Partnership
  • Self-expression
  • Sharing

Sense of self

  • Authenticity
  • Competence
  • Creativity
  • Dignity
  • Growth
  • Healing
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Self-accesptance
  • Self-care
  • Self-realization
  • Mattering to myself


  • Beauty
  • Celebration of life
  • Communion
  • Faith
  • Flow
  • Hope
  • Inspiration
  • Mourning
  • Internal peace
  • Presence

Sources: Marshall Rosenberg; Manfred Max-Neef; Miki and Arnina Kashtan

From: Service Design: 250 essential methods by Robert A Curedale

Human Needs

Marshall Rosenberg‘s universal needs:

  • Physical Well-being Needs—air, food, water, shelter, rest, movement, touch, sexual expression
  • Autonomy Needs—choice of dreams / goals / values, choice in plans for fulfilling them
  • Integrity Needs—authenticity, meaning, purpose, self worth, way to contribute to life
  • Celebration Needs—honoring small successes and big successes, mourning losses of loved ones and dreams
  • Interdependence / Connection Needs—acceptance, appreciation, consideration, community, emotional safety, honesty, love, respect, reassurance, support, trust, understanding
  • Recreation / Play Needs—creativity, fun, laughter, relaxing activities
  • Spiritual Needs—beauty, harmony, inspiration, order, peace

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs:

  • Physical Needs—air, food, water
  • Safety Needs—shelter, safety from environment and other humans
  • Belonging Needs—affiliation, connection with others—particular ones and community
  • Esteem Needs—achievement, competence, self-esteem, recognition by others
  • Cognitive Needs—understanding of a subject, exploration of an unknown
  • Aesthetic Needs—symmetry, order, beauty
  • Self-Actualization Needs—realization of one’s potential, comfortable acceptance of oneself and the world, identification of that which one most deeply hungers to do and action to be doing it
  • Self-Transcendent Needs—connection to something beyond oneself, helping others find self-fulfillment or realization of their potential


Manfred Max-Neef, a Chilean economist who studied the problems in the Third World, devised a way to measure real poverty and wealth, in terms of how well a culture meets its citizens’ fundamental needs.  He proposes a slightly different list of needs and discusses the qualities, things, actions, and settings that would accompany each.  Max-Neef reflects that needs are basic across cultures, but strategies for meeting them vary.

Here are three more models of how well a country is meeting the needs of its citizens. The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) has been around for 20 years.  The Gross National Happiness (GNH) scale and the Happy Planet Index (HPI) are more recent efforts.  Google these for more info.

Another group, The Search Institute, has focused on how well a community meets the needs of its youth.  They list experiences (Forty Developmental Assets) that are helpful for children and have produced many studies to show that children who get more of these needs met have many fewer social and health problems.

The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, with parallel to Myers-Briggs Interest Inventory, suggests there are four major clusters of needs and that our brains are hardwired to be focused on one or more clusters.  Testing and training is offered for the business world.

ISO 9241-210: User-centred design

The standard used to be known as ISO 13407. But last year it was updated and re-issued as ISO 9241-210 to bring it into line with other ISO usability standards. (So if you hear anyone talking about ISO 13407, they are out of date. They should be talking about ISO 9241-210).

The standard describes 6 key principles that will ensure your design is user centred:

  • The design is based upon an explicit understanding of users, tasks and environments.
  • Users are involved throughout design and development.
  • The design is driven and refined by user-centred evaluation.
  • The process is iterative.
  • The design addresses the whole user experience.
  • The design team includes multidisciplinary skills and perspectives.

Lessons learned …

… from participants in a user experience study about airline websites;

  • Openness
    Give honest and open information, especially with prices
  • Clarity
    Important information, like alerts, should be clearly visible
  • Relevance
    Ensure content is relevant to most users; don’t crowd the page
  • Priority
    Prioritise the page; common elements should be high on the page

Usabilla Report: The UX of 18 leading travel websites

KISS principle

KISS is an acronym for the design principle articulated by Kelly Johnson, Keep it simple, Stupid!.[1] Variations include “keep it short and simple”, “keep it simple sir”, “keep it simple or be stupid”, “keep it simple and stupid”, “keep it simple and straightforward” or “keep it simple and sincere.”[2] The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex, therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

Design principles: Visual Design vs. User experience

Visual Design is the establishment of a philosophy about how to make an impact.

User Experience is the establishment of a philosophy about how to treat people.

Principles of Visual Design:

  • Contrast
  • Emphasis
  • Variety
  • Balance
  • Proportion
  • Repetition
  • Movement
  • Texture
  • Harmony
  • Unity

Principles of User Experience:

  1. Stay out of people’s way.
  2. Create a hierarchy that matches people’sneeds.
  3. Limit distractions.
  4. Provide strong information scent.
  5. Provide signposts and cues.
  6. Provide context.
  7. Use constraints appropriately.
  8. Make actions reversible.
  9. Provide feedback.
  10. Make a good first impression.

Whitney Hess

Psychology of User Experience

  • People Don’t Want to Work: they will do the least amount of work possible to get a task done;
  • People Have Limitations: they can only look at so much information or read so much text on a screen without losing interest;
  • People Make Mistakes: Assume people will make mistakes. Anticipate what they will be and try to prevent them;
  • Human Memory Is Complicated: People reconstruct memories, which means they are always changing;
  • People are Social: they will always try to use technology to be social. This has been true for thousands of years;
  • Attention: Grabbing and holding onto attention, and not distracting someone when they are paying attention to something, are key concerns;
  • People Crave Information: Learning is dopaminergic—we can’t help but want more information;
  • Unconscious Processing: Most mental processing occurs unconsciously;
  • People Create Mental Models: People always have a mental model in place about a certain object or task (paying my bills, reading a book, using a remote control);
  • Using Visual Systems can help people.

Susan Weinschenk