Wednesday, March 28, 2007


That is a Human Usability Interaction Experience User Information Interface Factors Designer Engineer Architect Researcher. If it's not the same jobs having different names, it's a job that is eating up other jobs. Information Architecture a culprit? (Explained in Joshua Porter's Thoughts on the Impending Death of Information Architecture and Part 2.)

The field of study/work I'm interested in has some seemingly unsettled terminology. Is it Human Computer Interaction (HCI) or Computer Human Interaction (CHI)? HCI more accurately reflects the goal of being human-centric but saying "H.C.I." is sort of a mouthful while saying "CHI" (like "kai") is easy. Then there's the hyphenation issue Human Computer Interaction or Human-Computer Interaction?

Also, I am becoming confused lately as to whether I'm working on the "usability" of something or the "user experience" of it. For sure, the two can't be cleanly delineated (if I understand them correctly). Usability of something can be enhanced by improving the user experience, as noted by Don Norman in his book Emotional Design. Likewise, the user experience can be enhanced by improving usability. However, if I had to choose, I'd say that it might make more sense that user experience could be improved by usability enhancements than the other way around.

I recently read two blog posts describing what the authors think the difference is between user experience and usability. Jared Spool, mentions in his article The Difference Between Usability and User Experience:

Usability answers the question, “Can the user accomplish their goal?”

User experience answers the question, “Did the user have as delightful an experience as possible?”

which seems quite in line with the more humorous explanation in Marc Hassenzahl on User Experience:

Usability [with its focus on effectiveness and efficiency] wants us to die rich; user experience wants us to die happy.

Hrm, shouldn't we die rich and happy? Anyway, I think those two articles are helping me to understand the difference.

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