Usability vs User Experience

June 28, 2006

Here is something I hadn't ever pondered: the tradeoff between usability and user experience:

Freeways are usable, since they take you from A to B in the most effortless way. But they are also utterly boring. A twisting mountain road on the other hand is exiting. But far from usable.

According to Baekdal, we end up with mediocrity if we try to balance usability and user-experience. It's like trying to turn a mountain road into a freeway.

Via: The interaction designers coffee break.

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>> we end up with mediocrity if we try to >> balance usability and user-experience. I'd say that's due to flaws in the browsers & languages, rather than problems with combining usability and user-experience?
In trying to simplify the differences between usability and user experience, the originator of this comparison-Baekdal, got the metaphors quite wrong. Comparing freeways to mountain roads is a strange notion giving some mountain roads are dangerous, winding and slow, how is that a good user-experience if you are in a hurry? You must compare apples to apples, mountain road to mountain road, and so on. Using a freeway may be a necessity and no matter how ugly it is, if the road is smooth, the signs are clear, and drivers have enough time to change lanes or drive at a comfortable speed, then the freeway is very user friendly (good usability)which contributes to a good user-experience if you have to take it. Usability is part of user-experience, and is inseparable!

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