Extrinsic and Intrinsic Value

Every web site embodies both extrinsic and intrinsic value to its visitors.

Extrinsic value is the value of achieving a particular goal or outcome. It might include buying something, finding information or connecting to a colleague.

Intrinsic value is the value given by the experience of achieving the extrinsic goal.

One implication? Among extrinsically equal options for a desired outcome, that with the highest intrinsic value will be chosen more often. This is where usability goes from a nice-to-have feature to a crucial competitive advantage.

Another implication? People will jump through painful hoops if the extrinsic value of the goal is high enough and not available elsewhere. However, if you’ve read Innovators Dilemma, you know that such a high extrinsic value is very hard to maintain over time. Paying attention to intrinsic value protects your overall value while you have the luxury of a big lead.

A final implication? Intrinsic value isn’t worth a hill of beans if your site has no extrinsic value to begin with.

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