Understanding the Relationship between User Experience and Web Usability

Web usability and user experience are both essential to a success of a website. Based on ideas that you have gotten about web usability, you may think that web usability is basically a synonym for user experience. The accurate definition is that usability is about how easy it is to use something. Just because something is easy to use does not mean it will lead to a positive experience.

Of course, the easier it is to use something, the more it moves towards a positive experience. However, usability is about task-based interactions, removing obstacles to users, and making using the thing more easy and intuitive. User experience is about how users feel when they use the thing. This can easily be correlated to how much value they derive from the experience.

A smartphone app can be the perfect way to provide an example of how both concepts differ but are related to each other. Let’s say that the purpose of the smartphone is to help the user find restaurants near his location. As far as the usability of the app goes, everything works incredibly well. The user is able to easily enter the name of the restaurant, cuisine, or a random list of restaurants based on location. The app loads quickly and returns a list based on how far away each restaurant is.

The user’s experience is initially positive because the app functions as promised. But soon, the user realizes that the app does not provide menus, reviews, or prices of the restaurant. It only provides the address, phone number, restaurant hours, and pictures. This prevents the user from making a clear decision and at the end of the day, the user does not derive much value from the app. In fact, the user may attach a bad experience to using the app and may look for another app to use in the future.

You can clearly see that usability falls into the category of user experience but it does not define what user experience is. If the developer wanted to create a positive experience, there would need to be a lot of work done on improving the UI/UX. The developer would need to allow other users to submit reviews, require restaurants to put up their menus, and make sure the prices are clearly stated for users.

With these changes, many usability and UI improvements would need to be added. The developer should put in the ability to let users easily filter their searches by pricing and the average review ratings. The UI should clearly show the ratings and average price of the restaurant’s menu so that users can make quick decisions on which listings to look into. Without these changes, the UX improvements would not be as impactful as they should be.

The lesson here is that there is a relationship between the two concepts, but one does not define the other. You can do many things to improve the usability of your website from making it more accessible by mobile devices, improving load times, to designing clear navigation. But if your website does not fulfill the core needs and wants of the users, the usability improvements will do very little in helping your website get the most value out of users as well as in the users in getting the most value out of your website.