What is an Importance / Difficulty Matrix?

The Importance / Difficulty Matrix is a quad chart with one axis for importance and another axis for difficulty. It is usually classified under Patterns & Priorities within the UX Research techniques.

What are the benefits of using an Importance / Difficulty Matrix?

  • It prioritizes large amounts of data quickly
  • It identifies emergent issues, concepts and themes
  • Helps teams to agree on priorities more objectively

Quick guide to creating an Importance / Difficulty Matrix:

  • First, draw a quad chart, either on paper or the whiteboard, labelling the horizontal axis Importance and the vertical one Difficulty.

  • Place items written on sticky notes horizontally from Low to High Importance and vertically, from Low to High Difficulty.

  • Open the forum to all the team members and encourage discussion or priorities. 

  • As the team starts brainstorming, place items in the Low Difficulty / High Importance quadrant first, followed by the High Difficulty / Low Importance last.

Review these items at a later date to see if the importance / difficulty status has changed, or remove them altogether if they have been completed.


Dragos Vuia is a Vancouver-based UX Designer that's passionate about user experience strategy, cognitive-based design decisions, and innovative mobile interactions, who also travelled to 108 countries and territories so far, carefully documenting these experiences through photos, videos and stories.