User Experience is a larger concept than Usability

Usability is sometimes contrasted with user experience, and although usability certainly overlaps with user experience, they are not quite the same thing. Usability is a part of the big picture that is overall user experience.

Thomas Baekdal has written a great article where he highlights the difference between the two:


Usability is about the “ability to use” something. The aim for a usable product is to make it easy to use.

A product has a high level of usability when:

* It requires less mental effort to use
* the frequency of mistakes using it is less, or when the mistakes are less disastrous
* it is more powerful, where “more powerful” means that it can be used to do more or do it faster
* it is more learnable, that is, when a person can figure it out quicker


User-experience is not like usability – it is about feelings. The aim here is to create happiness. You want people to feel happy before, during and after they have used your product. To do that you need to take all kinds of things into consideration. Things like:

* Environment
* Colors moods
* Smell
* Touch
* Audio feedback
* Visual feedback
* Trust
* Branding
* Show-off effect
* Usefulness
* Practicality
* Coexistence
* Emotional effect
* Etc…

This is much much much harder to achieve. None of these things can be accurately analyzed. It is a touchy feeling kind of thing.

Why, for instance, does a Audi S6 give you a much better user-experience than a Ford Focus? I mean, in terms of usability they are pretty much the same.

He also gives some great real world examples

Jared Spool in his post The Difference Between Usability and User Experience explains the difference by giving an exampe of a guy shopping for digital camera online.

About Sachendra Yadav

Mobilist and Social Media enthusiast
This entry was posted in Usability, User Experience and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to User Experience is a larger concept than Usability

  1. Barbara Ling says:

    Hee hee, I love posts about usability and the user experience!

    It reminds me of when I was a developer at a telecommunications company back in 1990 or so….you could always tell when a programmer built an internal application because the colors were always so god-awful! Bright yellow on the buttons, red for the dropdown menus, etc. It made it easy for debugging but caused massive color agony after awhile. 🙂

    Learned a lot of what NOT to do back then….


  2. Tablature says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Tablature

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