The terms user experience & usability

November 23, 2018 | 1 Minute Read

A explanation of the terms and concepts of user experience & usability.

It is important to understand that these two terms are not synonyms and they should be used specificly in the right context. Basically user experience (also named UX) is the whole end-to-end experience which is a consequence of brand image, presentation, functionality, system performance, interactive behaviour, and assistive capabilities of a product. It also takes into account what happens before (expectations) and after (fulfilment of expectations) a product is used. Focusing solely on usability is quite a common mistake.

The following figure shows the relationship between user experience and usability:

UX and Usability

Expectations / Anticipated use

Before a user is using a product - he has expectations. These are influenced by:

  • Company branding / Marketing
  • Customer reviews
  • Previous interactions (with other products and services)

Usability / Actual Use

Officially usability is defined as:

The extent to which an interactive system can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.

This means usability is mainly about the interaction with a product. It is possible with specific techniques (e.g. usability tests) to evaluate and measure the usability aspects. With the results we should continuously (iterative) increase the overall value and UX of a product.

Fulfilment of expectations / After Use

After a product is used we automatically think about our expectations that we had. Did we got what we expected? When yes, we are normally positive about the product and had a good user experienece. This could be influenced by:

  • Product delivery
  • Post-sales support
  • Recent interactions (e.g. product support)

Hopefully this helps to understand the relationship between the terms user experience and usability. Please let me know if there are any errors or you have a questions.