Usability vs. User Experience

Ohhh Pickles user experience

I’m enrolled in Metropolitan State’s first Design of User Experience cohort.  It’s cool to take a new perspective, since all of my UX experience comes from work/practical application vs. formal education. As such, it’s rare that I take a step back from my actual work to look at it from a wider lens. It’s interesting to answer questions that seem basic on the surface, but inspire deeper thought.

Case in point: what is the difference between usability and user experience?

On a basic level, it’s not very difficult to understand: usability is how something functions, and experience is how it goes, right? But, considering on a deeper level, it reinforces the reasons that I adore the whole science of designing for an experience (this article from Smashing Magazine explains my choice of phrasing). It’s one thing to have a user complete a process–say, completing an application to a higher ed institution.

But was it confusing to the user? Difficult? Easy? And more importantly, how did it shape the likelihood that they’ll want to attend the institution? How does it reflect other processes? It’s more than just a developer coding away to create an application, it takes input from multiple sources. Not quite on the ‘it takes a village…’ scale, but input from the people who created these processes, the people who have to support the processes, and of course, the users.

And now we’ve made it better for everyone involved. Not only does it function well, but it’s pleasurable to use, too. That’s the value add of UX to usability.

What do you think?

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