There is a lot of debate over what the definition of User Experience is. I believe that its the feeling of satisfaction (or not) you get, once you have interacted with a product/service/website. You can liken this to discussions of brand in the marketing world.
When you talk about brands in the modern sense you will get people talking about Identity, Advertising, Products, Reputation, Service, People, Quality, Values and many other things. It makes it hard to define how to create a good brand and even harder to predict what will be successful and not, that’s why companies spend millions developing and protecting their brand as it gives them competitive advantage.
User experience is similar, when you ask someone to define what makes a good user experience as I do often in interviews, the conversation often moves quickly to usability, reducing clicks, speed to get somewhere etc. I believe companies should invest in this area just like they would in the brand not only because it will give them competitive advantage over their competitors but also because it will ultimately build and enhance their brand.
I define usability as this “the ability for a user to complete their intended goal on a website simply and without help.”
Usability is defined by five quality components:
- Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
- Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
- Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
- Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
- Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
I agree to this. All of these things will determine whether a user will be able to achieve their set goal when they arrive at the site. This forms part of the overall user experience for the customer.
User experience encompasses a whole lot more though. User experience is affected by many things before and after the user interacts with website or application
1. Advertising and brand will define expectations which the site will have to meet.
2. Fulfillment can be an amazingly defining factor, get it right and you are a hero, get it wrong and all of your hard work will be undone.
3. Product, as with anything else if the product or service I bought from you isn’t good, I am not gonna like you, regardless of whether you made the dame thing yourself or not so resellers beware don’t sell crappy things and talk them up.
I could go on with this but basically anything that could enhance or harm your customers perception of you is important to user experience, so instead I will finish with the following point.
If you work in user experience, or usability, or anything else that involves improving things for your customer (and if you are not doing that are you really doing anything worthwhile?) think about things up and down stream from the piece you are working on, how does what they do affect you, how does what you do affect them, how can you make that better?