A friend and sometimes client told me over lunch this week, "I think
of you as the usability guy." I didn't much care for this, because
I think of usability in terms of activities rather than an identity
to aspire to. It got me thinking about related terms, like "user
experience" (UX), and its cousin, user-centered design (UCD). As a
result of those thoughts, I took some time to differentiate these
terms, because even though they are often used interchangeably, I
think they are different in ways that are important to interaction
design work in related but distinct fields.
Usability: Important for all digital experiences, however, for
software design and development it is a critical measuring stick.
Software should be continually shaped by on-going, small rounds of
UCD: Web sites should speak the language of the people who use them,
not the organizations that sponsor them or the people who design and
develop them. UCD best practices should be adopted at the beginning
of every web site project, scaled appropriately to the budget and the
anticipated revenue or other gain.
UX: Products, services, public spaces, and web sites that need to
span multiple channels and areas of life will fall or rise based on
their user experience design. Customer experience is gaining momentum
as an entity in its own right.
Please take a look at the blog, and let me what you think about the
distinctions I draw between these terms.