The Impact of Usability on User Experience

The Impact of Usability on User Experience from UIGarage
Donald Fomby

Updated on February 28, 2020

Do you drink enough water every day?

I had a problem with drinking enough water to keep my body sufficiently hydrated throughout the day. Yes, same old forgetfulness.

Like with many other things I do, I’ve decided to use a hydration app to send me hourly reminders.

Water drinking reminder apps are a big hit these days, I heard.

Just a few clicks and I’ve got it (Let’s keep it anonymous, you’ll understand why pretty soon). The app had above average reviews and seemed to be okay. I didn’t have a lot of time to check everything so I just installed it.

But did it help me to get hydrated? Unfortunately, no. In less than a week, I had to get rid of it as soon as possible.

So what happened? You may ask.

Did it crash regularly? No.

Did it have ounces instead of milliliters like I preferred? No.

Was it slow? Not at all.

Here’s the reason why.

Usability: Helping the User Achieve Their Goals Easily

The Impact of Usability on User Experience from UIGarage

Let me get just a little bit technical here.

The term “usability” refers to the ease of access and use of a digital product like a website or an app. Simply put, it defines how effective, efficient, and easy a product the user finds the product to be in terms of helping with achieving their goal.

My goal with that hydration app was, of course, to get properly hydrated throughout the day, but I failed to achieve it because of its poor usability.

Here’s what the problem was.

I set the app to remind me to drink water every hour with a simple notification. Not a big deal.

When the notification appeared on the screen showing the reminder, it didn’t stay there for long. Maybe 10 seconds.

It disappeared pretty quickly even if I didn’t confirm that I saw it. By doing so, the app automatically considered that I noticed the notification and had some water.

Even if I didn’t.

As a result, no matter how much water I drank, the results were perfect. There wasn’t a report or anything (it just praised me for good work at 10 pm, which was the last time I had to drink water before going to bed), so there was no way for me to know:

  • How many reminders I missed
  • How successful I was in meeting my daily water intake goal
  • How many times I actually drank water.

Unsurprisingly, I noticed that the app was pretty much useless.

It was hard for me to achieve my goal with it because of the bad design. In other words, the app’s usability and user-friendliness were quite poor, which resulted in negative user experience.

Eventually, I was frustrated and had to delete it. That’s a shame, it was actually pretty good-looking and fast.

PS To help the developers make it better for others, I left a detailed comment that’s currently out there somewhere (hope they saw it).

User Experience Elements

To understand how usability impacts user experience, you need to understand how people use digital products. It may sound ridiculously simple, but the reality is a bit different.

So, one can say that user experience is everything that shapes the way people interact with digital products. The interaction itself is defined by the following factors.

What Constitutes User Experience?

The Impact of Usability on User Experience from UIGarage
UX and UI design Infographic elements for Business.

The conditions and circumstances under which a person uses a digital product change all the time. Even though the larger context tends to remain fairly consistent, many aspects change; for example, a product may play a changing role in the user’s life.

By understanding the context in which someone uses a product, one can design the interface that matches the needs of the user at a specific point.

The “Human” Side

Yes, we humans are emotional creatures, and UX designers should also keep this mind when designing digital products. For example, they should consider the human side in this process, which means making interfaces simple and intuitive to use.

Here are some of the most important considerations here:

  • Colors
  • Sizes
  • The use of negative space
  • Contrast
  • Positions of graphic elements
  • Navigation
  • Design consistency.

A great example of the impact of the “human” side of user experience is eCommerce checkout pages. According to the fresh data by Baymard Institute, two of the three top reasons why online shoppers walk away mid-purchase are mandatory account creation and long or complicated checkout processes.

The Impact of Usability on User Experience from UIGarage
Source:Baymard Institute

Websites with this problem have a problem with the “human” factor because their interfaces don’t consider the fact that people want a simple and hassle-free way to buy.

Since abandoned cart emails cost eCommerce businesses billions of dollars annually, the importance of researching the emotional state of the customer is really hard to overstate.


A user’s experience with a digital product will change over time. For example, if you try an app to remind you about exercising three times a week, you’re likely to be skeptical about the program’s effectiveness. Having mixed feelings is totally fine, as you’re not familiar with what the app can really do.

However, as you get accustomed to the exercise program as well as the app itself, you’ll recognize its true value for you. It’s quite possible that you’ll write a good review of the app to share your experience with others as well as become attached to the new routine.

Now, let’s see what usability factors affect these user experience factors.

Usability Factors that Impact User Experience Elements

Okay, so usability directly impacts the user experience with a digital product and is an inseparable part of it.

Here are the three essential usability considerations that define its impact on user experience.

The ability to be used easily after the first contact

The user of a digital product should become familiar and competent in using it after the first contact, according to Ron Maulana, a localization expert.

“This includes everything from the design layout to content localization. Some companies make a mistake by translating UX copy word-to-word; they end up with texts that often sound weird. The best way is to use top-reviewed human localization experts using tools you can find at Pick Writers, and make sure that the copy makes sense,” adds Maulana.

For example, if the hydration app’s usability is great, the user should be familiar with it – they should able to change settings, etc. – as soon as the second contact. This applies to the design, copy, and localization (if applicable).

All of the user experience factors – time, the “human” side, and the context – apply here. By considering all of them, user interface designers can think of better ways to meet the needs of the users.

For example, visual elements affect the ability of the user a digital product during the first contact. For example, if you take a look at CNN’s website, it could be a little bit difficult to find your way around from the very beginning because of the sheer amount of headlines, images, and ads.

The Impact of Usability on User Experience from UIGarage
CNN’s home page

As a result, the user experience on the page isn’t exactly the easiest.

The user should accomplish their goals easily

If a user wants to hydrate regularly, for example, the app should do everything it’s supposed to in order to allow them to achieve their goals as easily as possible, as quickly as possible.

Of course, all user experience factors play a critical role in the design process here. The designer should consider different contexts, experience levels, and timeframes to build something that the user could take advantage of regardless of when or how many times they use the digital product.

Ubersuggest, Neil Patel’s free keyword research tool, is a great example of an easy-to-use digital product that lets the users do what they need easily. Land on the page of this tool and you’ll see this.

The Impact of Usability on User Experience from UIGarage

No wandering around looking for the keyword research bar because it’s readily available on the home page. Just type in the keyword to analyze and hit “Search.” That’s it. Everybody can use this easily, no problem.

The person should be able to recall the interface of a digital product every time they use it

For example, the user of an app should learn enough about the product the first time to be able to achieve their goal just as easily during all subsequent uses.

All three user experience factors are at play here, too, as the designers should ensure that the product has an intuitive interface that anyone can use successfully.

To ensure that these three critical requirements are aligned with the user experience factors, UX designers test the product many times throughout the development process.

A poorly designed interface that fails to meet them is typically a sign of poor or insufficient design usability testing. The outcome of such a project is user frustration resulting from the bad user experience.

Final Thoughts

So the story that I’ve begun this article with is an example of how bad usability killed an otherwise okay app. Usability has a strong impact on user experience, and can easily make or break your project. Every app, website, smartwatch, digital music player, infotainment system or another product is not just lines of code or good-looking graphics. It’s an outcome of thorough research of the intended users’ needs, feelings, goals, and experiences.

Put usability first and use it to create an awesome user experience. If you play your cards right, chances are good that your digital product will be a hit. Good luck!

About Donald Fomby
The Impact of Usability on User Experience from UIGarage
Donald Fomby is a communications professional with more than five years of writing experience. Donald runs blog BestWritersOnlineand is proud of an uncanny ability to explain the most complex subject in simple terms.