The useful interface experience: The Role and Transformation of Usability

John M. Carroll, Helena M. Mentis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Competing values of both usability and rich experiences can cause tension in any good interface design. Usability was once considered an encompassing term for interactive systems that were easy to learn, easy to use, and effective with respect to work activity. In the late 1990s, perspectives began to expand as to what a quality user experience really meant. Over time usability and user experience became fractured by the multitude of definitions and concepts on what usability does entail and, more prevalently, what it is thought to overlook. With incongruent definitions and relentless criticism of usability, one might be forced to feel they must choose one over another. This is an unnecessary battle. Usability is the first level of any design goal. Common practice usually shows that usability is a good place to start and experience is something extra if one has the time and money. Separating the two makes as much sense as studying cognition without affect. That divisive notion is being overcome in the cognitive sciences, so experience should be considered an integral part of usability—one cannot have one without the other. This chapter examines the experience of using a practical digital product. From the standpoint of human history, this is still a relatively novel category of experience but one that is increasingly diverse and important in everyday life. This chapter reviews a historical perspective of the concept of usability and the rise of experience in human–computer interaction, and the research on digital products that describe desirable, adverse, and unexpected experiences. This review of research shows how the design of useful interfaces affects the experience of a product—whether it is directly or indirectly, intentional or not—and that broadening the definition of usability is perhaps more useful than separating out experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProduct Experience
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780080450896
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology

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