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I've come across several technical specification documents which refer to the "horizontal user experience" version of some application, but can't find a definition of this term.

It isn't referring to horizontal scrolling, that much is clear. From the context it seems to have something to do with branding.

Can anyone enlighten me?

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I assume it's something about breadth vs depth, but I've never heard the term myself. Do you have any examples of the term's use? – Ben Brocka Apr 30 '12 at 15:22
I can't post text from the documents due to nda limitations. :( Though I did find LinkedIn/Indeed profiles where people claim to have worked on a "horizontal user experience project" at a few manufacturers. It's looking like an industry term for smartphone & netbook manufacturers. Maybe there is no real definition. – Hydrangea Apr 30 '12 at 20:29
Horizontal vs vertical prototyping is more common. Horizontal prototyping when you want to do a broad view of an entire system, and vertical prototyping when you want to study a part of the system in depth. See and – Jørn E. Angeltveit May 1 '12 at 20:55
up vote 7 down vote accepted


Definition from this book, page 123:

Vertical usability refers to the usability requirement specific to each platform while horizontal usability is concerned with the cross-platform usability issues of a MUI.

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This make sense to me. Thank you for the reference! – Hydrangea May 1 '12 at 22:08

Maybe it refers to the experience a user has regarding the entire brand (and sub-brands) rather than experiencing i. e. the sales process and customer service for one particular product. The latter could be seen as "vertical user experience".

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On a consumer level I've always thought it means how the user interacts across all touch-points e.g. web, mobile, tablet, in-store etc. and this includes call-centres, tech support and so on.

From a corporate point of view, for large companies it could be a way of mapping the user experience across the whole value chain. Hmmm, might be interesting to explore that a bit further...

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