What Is The Difference Between Usability And User Experience
Whether you’re designing a Shopify theme, an entire website, or even an application, your goal will always be to deliver the most effective experience for your user. Professional designers and developers are usually familiar with the concepts of “usability” and “user experience”. However, for newcomers to the space, these terms can be quite confusing.
At a glance usability and user experience might even seem like two versions of the same term. After all, to deliver a good user experience, you need your app, theme, or website to be “usable”.
However, there are some major differences between these concepts which mean they don’t always overlap or align. Understanding the difference between user experience and usability is a good way to ensure you’re prepared to produce the best results for your client.
Today, we’re going to get to the bottom of what usability and user experience (UX) really mean.
What is Usability? An Introduction
Let’s start by defining “usability”. This term comes up pretty frequently for Shopify developers, because it’s a core component in ensuring an end-user can comfortable and effectively navigate a store. The term “usability” refers to how easily a customer can learn how to use a solution (like an app or website), and use the service to complete a specific goal.
For Shopify developers, for instance, designing a website with good usability would involve ensuring end users can successfully navigate through product pages, use a search bar to find specific items, and add products to their basket for purchase.
Before publishing a Shopify site, most developers and designers will conduct “usability tests”. These are the evaluations you can use to determine how easily customers can use your site. During a usability study, a moderator or business owner will ask participants to complete specific tasks based on the purpose of the application or site.
For instance, you might use the Shopify development environment to ask a user to purchase a product from the store to ensure the transaction goes through clearly. While the user completes this task, the moderator gathers feedback and watches for any specific bugs or errors.
What are the Components of Usability?
To define a website or store as having good usability, companies need to assess a number of factors. The exact components addressed in a usability study will vary depending on the app, theme, or website created. However, the most common factors covered include:
- Learnability: How easy is it for users to learn how to use the interface when they first interact with it? Does the site behave predictably, and according to user expectations.
- Memorability: How simple is it for customers to come back to the store and complete the same actions? Is it easy to remember how everything works?
- Efficiency: How complex is it for customers to complete certain processes? Are there a number of different actions involved in finishing a complete task?
- Error frequency: How many mistakes are customers likely to make when they’re leveraging the site’s features? How frustrating are these errors?
- Satisfaction: How comfortable do users feel using the interface? Would they recommend it to a friend, or are they happy to use it again?
As we can see, usability clearly impacts the “user experience”. As a customer or user needs to feel comfortable using and learning how to navigate a system for them to continue coming back to a store. However, usability doesn’t account for the entire user experience – it’s just one factor.
What is User Experience? An Introduction
While usability is one component which influences how your customer feels about your store, there are a number of other factors which can contribute to the overall “user experience”, or UX.
The term “user experience” refers to all of the aspects of an interaction between a user and a piece of software. It can apply to how secure your app or website appears to be, how intuitive the site is and even how attractive your website’s product pages are.
When we interact with a website, or an app, the ease of using something is an important factor, but we won’t necessarily continue to use a service just because it’s simple. User testing, or user experience testing, involves looking at all of the different factors that can lead to user satisfaction.
In a user testing strategy, developers and designers evaluate what users do with a piece of software, and how they feel using the product from start to finish. For instance, you might ask questions like:
- Is it easy to begin using the product (usability)?
- Is the interface intuitive and convenient?
- Do you have fun using the product?
- Do you feel engaged by the experience?
- Does the product/site add value to your life?
- Would you recommend this product to someone else?
What are the Components of User Experience?
While usability testing is a factor of user experience testing, examining the full “UX” of a Shopify website will also involve other strategies. For instance, you might use A/B testing to see whether your customer has a better time on your store when you use different colors in your theme, or experiment with different kinds of language.
You could use surveys to find out whether customers would be more likely to recommend using your store if you offered more payment options, or added additional content, like 360-degree videos and pictures to product pages. You can also use focus groups, beta testing, and other feedback-focused testing methods to collect more insights from your audience.
The components of user experience are varied, but the most common elements most companies look at include:
- Usability: How easy is it to complete tasks using the website or app?
- Adaptability: Will be able to comfortably start using the product in place of something else?
- Value: Is the solution actually useful for the customer that’s using it?
- Desirability: Is the solution, fun, engaging, and attractive to customers?
There are various user experience testing tools you can use to actually learn more about the user experience on your Shopify app, theme, or website. Overall, the aim is usually to make sure customers feel happy with the experience they get from the site.
The Overlap and Differences between UX and Usability
User experience and usability naturally go hand-in-hand. Usability is one of the core elements of a website, theme, or app any Shopify developer will need to consider when ensuring their creation has a good overall user experience. If your product isn’t easy to use, then people generally aren’t going to interact with it, or have a positive experience when they do.
However, good usability doesn’t guarantee a good user experience on its own. Look at Facebook Messenger for instance, you can easily delete a message sent to another person by clicking on the message and removing it, either for yourself, or all users. However, this doesn’t technically “delete” the message, as it shows the other person you’ve removed a piece of content.
This obviously shows the other person there was a message they’ve missed, which harms the user experience, and potentially causes some awkward conversations.
To really deliver an amazing Shopify experience, developers need to ensure they’re balancing usability and ease of use, with the other factors of UX that matter most to their target audience. This means doing customer and market research, and finding out what actually matters to your end-user, before you start building an app, theme, or site.
If you’re already a master of UX and usability, contact Storetasker today to start your journey as a Shopify Expert.