Definitions of User Experience and Usability

Below are various definitions of common user experience terms. Visit these resources to find out more:

Definitions of User Experience

Every aspect of the user’s interaction with a product, service, or company that make up the user’s perceptions of the whole. User experience design as a discipline is concerned with all the elements that together make up that interface, including layout, visual design, text, brand, sound, and interaction. UE works to coordinate these elements to allow for the best possible interaction by users.

UXPA, Usability Body of Knowledge, Glossary

User Experience is not about good industrial design, multi-touch, or fancy interfaces. It is about transcending the material. It is about creating an experience through a device.
– Marc Hassenzahl (2013): User Experience and Experience Design. In: Soegaard, Mads and Dam, Rikke Friis (eds.). “The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.”. Aarhus, Denmark: The Interaction Design Foundation.

User experience (UX) involves a person’s emotions about using a particular product, system or service. User experience highlights the experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person’s perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system. User experience is subjective in nature because it is about individual perception and thought with respect to the system. User experience is dynamic as it is constantly modified over time due to changing circumstances and new innovations.

Wikipedia entry for user experience, page last modified on 24 September 2013 at 23:52.

Definitions of Usability

The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.

ISO 9241-11

Usability means that the people who use the product can do so quickly and easily to accomplish their own tasks. This definition rests on four points: (1) Usability means focusing on users; (2) people use products to be productive; (3) users are busy people trying to accomplish tasks; and (4) users decide when a product is easy to use.

Janice (Ginny) Redish and Joseph Dumas, A Practical Guide to Usability Testing, 1999, p. 4

After all, usability really just means that making sure that something works well: that a person of average (or even below average) ability and experience can use the thing – whether it’s a Web site, a fighter jet, or a revolving door – for its intended purpose without getting hopelessly frustrated.

Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think, 2000, p. 5

Usability starts with a philosophy – a belief in designing to meet user needs and to focus on creating an excellent user experience – but it is the specific process and methodology that produce the real goal of usability. A new usability process starts by looking at who uses a product, understanding their goals and needs, and selecting the right techniques to answer the question, “How well does this product meet the usability requirements of our users?”

Whitney Quesenbery

It is important to realize that usability is not a single, one-dimensional property of a user interface. Usability has multiple components and is traditionally associated with these five usability attributes: learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, satisfaction.

Jakob Nielsen, Usability Engineering, 1993, p. 26

Usability is a measurable characteristic, that is present to a greater or lesser degree, that describes how effectively a user can interact with a product. It can also be thought of as how easy a product is is to learn and how easy it is to use.

Jeff Axup, UserDesign

Definition of Human-Centered Design

Human-centered design is characterised by: the active involvement of users and a clear understanding of user and task requirements; an appropriate allocation of function between users and technology; the iteration of design solutions; multi-disciplinary design.

ISO 13407
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