What Is the Difference Between Usability, Interaction Design,
Graphic Design, and User Experience?
Author: Joe Dumas, Oracle Applications User Experience
Let’s break this process down to see how a user experience (UX) professional might look at it.
As the customer moves through the screens, she is using iProcurement’s user interface. An Oracle interaction designer has designed the layout of the screens, where buttons and links should be placed, and what words should be displayed on them. Most importantly, the designer has created a workflow that should be both logical to the customer and provide feedback that the customer is making progress toward the goal of completing the requisition.
The iProcurement screens that the customer uses look like they belong to the same application. In addition, there are many elements on the screens that require special skills to design well. For example, the field for entering the date on which the printer is to be delivered has an icon that looks like a calendar. When clicked, the icon expands into a monthly calendar with today’s date as the default. Designing these elements, as well as the overall look of the application, is the job of an Oracle graphic designer or, to use a more modern term, visual designer. A visual designer uses graphic media such as color, symbols, and typeface to communicate information, as well as style or expression.
The interaction designer and the visual designer work together to create the user interface. Their goal is to make the application usable. “Usability” is a characteristic of a product that enables customers to use the product quickly and efficiently to accomplish their task. The task might be buying a printer, generating a business report, or even playing a game.
For a product to be successful, it needs to be usable. But the total user experience includes more than accomplishing a transaction with the software, such as completing a requisition.
A user’s experience has many emotional qualities: Was the interface attractive and was the process pleasant? Did the interface help the customer avoid missing steps that would cause more work for the customer’s boss? Finally, did the customer receive the requested printer at the correct location on the date requested? All of these factors contribute to the customer’s perception of the user experience with an application.
The Oracle Applications UX team uses this broad customer perspective when it designs and evaluates products, in order to deliver a superior user experience.