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Is User Experience Different than Usability?

I was recently asked "Is user experience different than usability?"

Our field has been called many things:

  • Engineering Psychology
  • Personnel Subsystem Design
  • Human Factors Engineering
  • Ergonomics
  • Usability
  • User Experience

Sorry. It was not my idea.

The switch from Usability to User Experience flagged a wider viewpoint. We are not just concerned that it is possible for people to use software. We are concerned about the whole user experience. We care about the experience the customer has in walking into the bank. We care about the integration of mobile and net channels. We care about how our designs fit into complex ecosystems with many users all interacting. We are also concerned beyond performance. We care about the emotional reaction to design. We care about persuasion engineering. We care about conversion. We are also moving beyond just design and getting involved in strategy and innovation.

But basically yes. It is the same stuff. :)

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Comment by Regis L. Magyar, Ph.D. on April 13, 2010 at 5:03pm
I agree with Eric. The field of Engineering Psychology and Human Factors as originally practiced by founders like Alphonse Chapanis may have appeared to switch the emphasis of study on different aspects of systems involving humans as our technology developed and changed over time, but they always invariably adhered to examining the three primary psychological components of our experience which specifically adress Behavior (What we do..), Cognition (What we think..), and Emotions (What we feel). Experienced practioners of UX/HF/UI/etc. should always address these three perspectives in their analysis of interfaces, products and services.
Comment by Eric Schaffer on March 31, 2010 at 8:43am
Hi Rajat. Maybe consider that it is inherently a BIT different, and is flagging growth of our field. :)
Comment by Rajat Bhardwaj on March 31, 2010 at 8:21am
Hi Eric,
This all depends on what scope one sets when they think of Usability or User experience.People who think broad can say its the same and vice versa.
Found this article other day which says usability and user experience has some difference.


Now I again have conflicts fighting inside my mind on this :-)



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