“Usability” is a measure of efficiency, ease of use, and accessibility.” User experience” is a measure of how much a product blows your mind.
When you declare total anarchy for the sake of memorable UX, you sacrifice usability.
User experience and usability are related, but also distinct. They’re part of the same equation, but they can also occupy two opposite ends of a spectrum. First, let’s present a succinct definition of UX.
User experience (UX) refers to the subjective experience of a user with a product.
It’s a measure of the degree of pleasure that he or she derives from the experience, factoring in multiple disciplines to address such as ergonomics, functional scope, and psychological effect. Usability—or ease of use—is a part of this equation, but it may or may not take center stage. It’s possible for a solution to be grossly ineffective but incredibly fun, and it’s also possible for a product to be efficient but unmemorable—as if time simply vanished into thin air.
Industry, branding, and target market may all influence your priorities in user experience. A younger demographic seeking luxury goods will be more concerned with high quality UX, whereas a B2B buyer has no time to waste on poor usability. But the reality is that any type of impression you’re trying to make on your target market revolves around time and the amount of it you hope to maintain with a user’s attention. When you sacrifice usability, you begin to push the boundary of how much a user wants to engage with your product at all.
E-commerce is the game changer. If you’re selling stuff on your website, usability trumps UX hands-down. There is no amount of creative navigation, thought-provoking imagery, or post-modern copy that takes priority over customers proceeding through a streamlined checkout process without risking delays that could lead to a change of heart and a bounce.
There are websites that switch to a completely different design template for purchases precisely for this reason. It’s preferable to maintain brand consistency throughout the entire user experience, which is why it’s important to focus on usability from start to finish. This will create a cohesive experience that does not impede purchase.
The nightmare collision of Usability and UX is the “spork”— neither spoon nor fork—memorable only for how unpleasant an experience it instills. The ideal marriage of design is a product with solid core usability and impressive user experience. This was the type of design that propelled Apple products to the height of their sales. What you’re aiming for with your website is an early generation iPod: intuitive, sleek, and easy to use. Don’t be a spork.