Usability vs. User Experience

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One persistent misconception is that Usability and User Experience (UX) are one-in-the-same. There are many ways to differentiate the two, but one of our favorite metaphors says, “…a usable road is one that is wide and straight, and enables drivers to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, albeit in a very boring manner. However, a road with a high level of user-experience is completely different.

With great scenery and smells that stimulate driver emotion, the road may take twists and turns, but is not as direct as the usable road.”  – Marisa Peacock (CMSwire)

In reality, usability is a subset of UX. If the product is not usable, then the user experience is poor, but if a product is usable, it doesn’t mean it has a great user experience.

Usability is major component of UX, but there are many other factors, such as user testing, user interviewing, interface layout, information architecture, ergonomics, visual design, interaction design, marketing, content strategy, system performance, and point of purchase interactions that also play a role.

01_user_experience_graphicAccording to Smashing Magazine, “usability is a big part of the user experience and plays a major role in experiences that are effective and pleasant, but then human factors such as science, psychology, information architecture and user-centered design principles also play major roles.”

Or as Domain7 puts it…

“User experience is the sum of all those layers gauged by a person’s emotional response.”

To sum it up, the team over at visualhierarchy.co uses two qualitative and measurable questions,

“In terms of usability, the most acceptable question to ask would be the following: Will the user be able to accomplish his goals?

User experience, on the other hand, entails the following question: Was the user satisfied with his overall experience?”

What do you think? There are numerous products and experiences in our daily lives that are clearly usable, but lack in the pleasant experience category. What products and experiences have you found that aren’t enjoyable, even when they are functional?

Posted by on November 10, 2015 with no comments yet

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