Use Your UX and Usability Will Follow

Use Your UX and Usability Will Follow

Written by Professional Academy Tutor and Marketing Expert Peter Sumpton

User experience (UX) and usability will always be intrinsically linked to one another. One could argue - and rightly so, that usability is a major factor of a user’s experience, regardless of whether the experience is product, service or even system related.

Even though this is the case, both of these fields are distinctively different.

While UX incorporates the intangible elements of an individual journey through a particular transaction with an organisation, usability focusses specifically on the user-friendliness of these events which can be said to be the more tangible asset. But why do we need to distinguish between the two and how can one have a detrimental effect on the other and subsequently affect consumers purchasing decisions?

Kettles - Functional Not Fun - Great usability but lacking a user experienceLet’s start with the basics. Now I like to make myself a cup of coffee in the morning, every day, but the usability of the kettle and the user experience it gives me are vastly different.

Usability: Allows me to fill it up with water, heating up this water within 3-4 minutes and has a convenient handle on the side that allow me to pour this hot water into a mug. Job done.

User Experience: It’s isn’t memorable, nearly every kettle I’ve used does exactly the same thing and to be honest I don’t write these experiences in any type of journal or diary, nor indeed do I tell my friends about it after work.

The end result is that the usability of the kettle is excellent, but the user experience isn’t great. Yes it’s just a kettle and yes, it’s just heating water, but this is about how my experience could be enhanced:

  • A temperature gauge would allow me to heat the water to the perfect temperature
  • A filter would help to purify the water
  • An alert for when the water has been boiled would definitely assist in the efficiency of ‘hanging around’, waiting for hot water
  • You could go as far as to say that being able to remotely switch the kettle on brings ‘brewing up’ into the digital age!

The above example may seem a little farfetched to some, after all a kettle provides you with hot water in a timely fashion, that is its main function and it should do no more, no less. But if we lived our lives in this way, we would still be trying to read an OS map when driving, our smart devices would still need a battery the size of a backpack, they would still be classed as mobile phones and an App or ‘Application’ would be something you only read on the side of sun-tan lotion! Remember it wasn’t too long ago that the only way to communicate with someone would be to talk to them and depending who was on the other end of the phone, this could lead to a very bad UX!

Usability: Is it possible to do something? UX: Was it enjoyable?             
Making a task easy and intuitive Making something meaningful and valuable
Minimising steps and removing roadblocks Creating emotional connections
What users do and how they do it What users feel

A Kettle with User Experience - The future of the humble brewToday, where digital advances are a daily if not hourly occurrence it is much easier to get Usability and UX confused, especially when crossing digital-real life boundaries - even more so when there are a number of elements to consider within a customer’s journey. Each element in isolation can have excellent usability, but if one of these components fails to live up to expectations then the overall UX has failed in its design. To make it that little more complex this may not be a failure in technology, it maybe human error or perhaps a section of a journey that has never been taken into consideration. The table below may help explain this a little better;

A consumer wants to buy a kettle online
Online Search    Found one with great reviews
Order Process    Seamless and without issue
Confirmation email Sent with a delivery date included
Delivery email   Sent once the product is in transit
Delivery Arrives on-time
Packaging Solid yet easy to open
Instructions         Easy to follow
Product Easy to install and works great
Brewing-Up Hot cup of tea ready in under 4 minutes

All of the above, when placed together leads to a great user experience and each action in isolation has shown good usability, but if one of these actions were to fail (leaving the customer with a bad taste in their mouth – no pun intended) then the UX is deemed insufficient, even though the usability of 90% of the customer journey is sufficient. There is the difference!

Finally, don’t think that if something is easy to use it means you are guaranteed a good user experience. Remember the usability of the humble kettle, anyone can use one of those (heavily supervised if under a certain age), but it certainly won’t feature in my next diary entry.

If you would like to improve your Digital Marketing skills or complete a CIM qualifcation which includes Digital Strategy why not get in touch with one of our qualification advisers today and speak to us about which qualification is right for you today?