Usability vs UX Design
Usability and UX Design are very often neglected, too often pages are designed
by programmers and the results are there to be seen.
If you jump in the middle of a project and find such a situations a possible
approach is “Let us work on usability immediately and begin something about
UX Design when we do have time and resources”.
The usual reactions are skeptical faces and somebody comes out with “Usability
does not exist anymore, has been killed by UX Design. I've read this in many
articles and web sites”.
This concept is published in many articles but it is simply WRONG!
One of the most fascinating
approach uses the metaphor
of getting on top of a
It says that
usability is go via the more
easy track and UX is using a
the more difficult one.
In one case I go on top on the fast and safe way, on the other is much more
difficult, but I have fun using my skills and have wonderful views of the
This is a wrong way of looking at the problem!
In reality which way to choose is in both cases a problem of UX (User’s
We must start from needs and constraints: if I’m not a climber the direct way
cannot even be taken in consideration or if I want to go on top to make
maintenance to a radio repeater again the most fast and easy way, the normal
track, will be the most reasonable choice. On the other side if I am a
mountain guide and have some climbers customers I will reasonably choose the
most beautiful, but difficult, track.
Once I've chosen which track to follow (which User eXxperience) usability may
December 9th, 2013 v 1.0 page 1 of 3
be applied and must be applied to each one of the tracks! In the metaphor we
are using one face of usability is, as an example, the choice of the most
When I was young I was a
climber: we had one type of
sometimes too easy to be
options and security has been
Amelioration of tools can be applied to all the type of sport
activities. You may choose better tools even if you go up via the
normal and more easy track, ie you may improve usability
Once alpenstocks where long
wood sticks, nowaday we use
much more modern and light
The bottom line is that it is NOT true that UX Design killed Usability, they are
two different activities to be performed in two different phases of the project:
they may influence each other deeply. UX without usability takes to very poor
To use another metaphor we could say that when we
build an house UX is deciding the structure, the
functions and the relative positions and dimensions of
different rooms and elements, Usability is good
interior design. Both are needed, both are very
important for the success of the project and they
influence each other deeply. Interior design starts,
among the other factors, from some indication of
usage (UX) decisions coming from the structure
An hospital and a villa do have very
different structure and requirement, but they both
December 9th, 2013 v 1.0 page 2 of 3
need proper interior design.
● User eXperience Design (UX Design) are not alternative, they are
● UX Design is giving to the customer the most delightful experience: from
the user’s point of view it answers to the question “Do I WANT to use IT”
● Usability makes possible for the customer to reach their goals: it answers
to the question “Can I easily use it?)
● In a system UX Design could have been done informally or as an heritage
from the previous practices, is not a good idea, but is not a tragedy.
● Usability MUST be done anyway ready to review it after UX Design has
December 9th, 2013 v 1.0 page 3 of 3