Useful, Usable, and Used: Why They Matter to Designers
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The concept of use has three contexts: useful, usable and used.
Together, these terms create the "concept of use".
Typically, designers bunch together the terms "useful" and "usable", while "used" is not mentioned as frequently.
A product is "useful" when several users agree that it is useful. Commercially speaking, enough people must find the product useful in order for profit to be generated. A product’s usefulness addresses a particular need or problem and thereby creates value.
A product may be "usable" but not useful. For example, a snow sled is not useful on a summer day, though it is still usable and functions properly. In the particular context, the snow sled is not useful. Usability simply means that it works and functions appropriately in the particular context and setting.
Finally, a product must be "used". Once a product is used, it means it has been successfully adopted and accepted by the customer base. In a sense, having customers use your product is one of the most important business goals.
Here’s the entire UX literature on Concept of Use by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:
Take a deep dive into Concept of Use with our course User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide .
If you’ve heard the term user experience design and been overwhelmed by all the jargon, then you’re not alone. In fact, most practicing UX designers struggle to explain what they do!
“[User experience] is used by people to say, ‘I’m a user experience designer, I design websites,’ or ‘I design apps.’ […] and they think the experience is that simple device, the website, or the app, or who knows what. No! It’s everything — it’s the way you experience the world, it’s the way you experience your life, it’s the way you experience the service. Or, yeah, an app or a computer system. But it’s a system that’s everything.”
— Don Norman, pioneer and inventor of the term “user experience,” in an interview with NNGroup
As indicated by Don Norman, User Experience is an umbrella term that covers several areas. When you work with user experience, it’s crucial to understand what those areas are so that you know how best to apply the tools available to you.
In this course, you will gain an introduction to the breadth of UX design and understand why it matters. You’ll also learn the roles and responsibilities of a UX designer, how to confidently talk about UX and practical methods that you can apply to your work immediately.
You will learn to identify the overlaps and differences between different fields and adapt your existing skills to UX design. Once you understand the lay of the land, you’ll be able to chart your journey into a career in UX design. You’ll hear from practicing UX designers from within the IxDF community — people who come from diverse backgrounds, have taught themselves design, learned on the job, and are enjoying successful careers.
If you are new to the Interaction Design Foundation, this course is a great place to start because it brings together materials from many of our other courses. This provides you with both an excellent introduction to user experience and a preview of the courses we have to offer to help you develop your future career. After each lesson, we will introduce you to the courses you can take if a specific topic has caught your attention. That way, you’ll find it easy to continue your learning journey.
In the first lesson, you’ll learn what user experience design is and what a UX designer does. You’ll also learn about the importance of portfolios and what hiring managers look for in them.
In the second lesson, you’ll learn how to think like a UX designer. This lesson also introduces you to the very first exercise for you to dip your toes into the cool waters of user experience.
In the third and the fourth lessons, you’ll learn about the most common UX design tools and methods. You’ll also practice each of the methods through tailor-made exercises that walk you through the different stages of the design process.
In the final lesson, you’ll step outside the classroom and into the real world. You’ll understand the role of a UX designer within an organization and what it takes to overcome common challenges at the workplace. You’ll also learn how to leverage your existing skills to successfully transition to and thrive in a new career in UX.
You’ll be taught by some of the world’s leading experts. The experts we’ve handpicked for you are:
Alan Dix, Director of the Computational Foundry at Swansea University, author of Statistics for HCI: Making Sense of Quantitative Data
Ann Blandford, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at University College London
Frank Spillers, Service Designer, Founder and CEO of Experience Dynamics
Laura Klein, Product Management Expert, Principal at Users Know, Author of Build Better Products and UX for Lean Startups
Michal Malewicz, Designer and Creative Director / CEO of Hype4 Mobile
Mike Rohde, Experience and Interface Designer, Author of The Sketchnote Handbook: The Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking
Szymon Adamiak, Software Engineer and Co-founder of Hype4 Mobile
William Hudson, User Experience Strategist and Founder of Syntagm
Throughout the course, we’ll supply you with lots of templates and step-by-step guides so you can start applying what you learn in your everyday practice.
You’ll find a series of exercises that will help you get hands-on experience with the methods you learn. Whether you’re a newcomer to design considering a career switch, an experienced practitioner looking to brush up on the basics, or work closely with designers and are curious to know what your colleagues are up to, you will benefit from the learning materials and practical exercises in this course.
You can also learn with your fellow course-takers and use the discussion forums to get feedback and inspire other people who are learning alongside you. You and your fellow course-takers have a huge knowledge and experience base between you, so we think you should take advantage of it whenever possible.
You earn a verifiable and industry-trusted Course Certificate once you’ve completed the course. You can highlight it on your resume, LinkedIn profile or website.